Now that the pomp and circumstance of Team Canada’s hockey team announcement has come and gone, every team participating has given their rosters. There is a lot of debate to be had, so here is my take on the 2014 Winter Olympics Hockey All-Snub Team.
Goaltenders: Ben Bishop (USA), Pekka Rinne (FIN), Corey Crawford (CAN)
Bishop and Crawford were in the running for their respective team’s third goalie spot. Bishop has been the best netminder statistically out of all of Team USA’s options, but age and experience were his demise.
‘Crow’ was an odds-on favorite to make Team Canada after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2013 Stanley Cup, but a slow start to his 2013-14 season hurt his chances. His numbers are similar/better than Mike Smith’s, who made the Canadian team. That being said, the third option in net has a near-zero percent chance of playing.
Rinne has been dealing with an infection in his hip and has missed the majority of the NHL’s season. The Nashville Predator would be in the running for starting goaltender for Finland if healthy. Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask will get looks in net,
Defensemen: Brent Seabrook (CAN), Victor Hedman (SWE), Dustin Byfuglien (USA), Keith Yandle (USA), Dan Boyle (CAN), Lubomir Visnovsky (SVK)
Puck-moving defensemen got the short end of the stick. Yandle’s defensive presence was questioned, Boyle is aging, but still as good as it gets with the puck, and Visnovsky has been out with a concussion since mid-October. If Visnovsky showed any signs of being able to skate, he would have made the Slovakian team.
Seabrook’s exclusion appears to be more about position than talent. Canada is deep at right defense, so his chemistry with Duncan Keith, who was selected to Team Canada, was less of a selling point. That being said, Jay Bouwmeester of the St. Louis Blues made the team in large part because of his chemistry with fellow Canadian Alex Pietrangelo.
Victor Hedman is having the best year of his career, but was left off Team Sweden for Henrik Tallinder. Blame experience for the exclusion, but Hedman is clearly the better blueliner.
Forwards: Joe Thornton (CAN), Claude Giroux (CAN), Bobby Ryan (USA), Brandon Saad (USA), Alex Semin (RUS), Radim Vrbata (CZE), Jiri Hudler (CZE), Logan Couture (CAN), Martin St. Louis (CAN), Marcus Johansson (SWE), Kyle Okposo (USA)
13th man: James Neal (CAN)
That is one heck of a top 12. Thornton, Giroux, and Couture are all casualties of the depth at center for Canada. It has been rumored that Giroux is the next man up if injured selection Steven Stamkos cannot make the trip to Sochi, or if anyone else is hurt. Couture is out one month with a broken hand, so that had to have some bearing on his exclusion. Thornton is still an elite passer, but no where near the scorer as those selected before him at center.
Ryan, Saad, and Okposo were casualties of a system that USA wanted to have. The mix of scorers and defensive-minded forwards cost at least two of them their spots. Derek Stepan could have been easily replaced by Ryan, but Team USA brass wanted a fifth center.
James Neal is left off of Canada, but Chris Kunitz, a product of playing with Pittsburgh and Canadian teammate Sidney Crosby, makes it. That is just mind-boggling.
Alex Semin may be inconsistent, but he is a proven scorer and great on the larger international ice. The same can be said for Radim Vrbata and Jiri Hudler, who were left off of the Czech Republic roster. How the hell does a 41-year old Petr Nedved get in over players who are clearly better?
Fun fact: Nedved last played in the Winter Olympics in 1994…..for Canada.
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