A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Staal, Spezza relegated to taxi squad. Crosby left out entirely.

When the USA announced their Turin roster on Monday night, there was a little bit of head scratching, but honestly, I'm completely dumbfounded by what Canada has done.

Team USA decided to include Chris Chelios and Keith Tkachuk while leaving Brian Leetch and Jamie Langenbrunner behind. Chelios instead of Leetch?!?! Are you kidding me?!
I can't begin to understand that one. And although Jamie Langenbrunner isn't the most spectacular player in the league, I like him. He's one of the non-Canes that I like to see play. Anyway, I like him a whole lot better than fat boy. All joking aside about his pre-season weight issues, Keith Tkachuk is presently injured for the third time this season. He'll be off the ice with a hand injury until at least late January. If I were the one making those decisions, I would have replaced Chelios with Leetch and Tkachuk with Langenbrunner. Maybe even Matt Cullen.
And Derian Hatcher? Sorry. How 'bout Paul Mara instead?

I know, I know. They wanted to go with a mix of experience and youth. On the Chelios/Leetch thing, they've both played at the Olympics three times. They've both played in a total of 16 games. Chelios has seven points in Olympic play (3/4) while Leetch has 13(2/11). Leetch is younger and is much more effective than Chelios. And he would still be able to provide veteran leadership to the blueliners. I don't get it.

As an aside, the USA Hockey website keeps referring to coach Peter Laviolette as being from Raleigh. He lives there now, but is in fact from Franklin, Massachusetts.

Actually, Team USA isn't what's got me all fired up this morning, though. It's team Canada.

Maybe it's because I'm a homer, but I'm far from being alone in my outrage at the relegation of Eric Staal to the taxi squad. What in the world do you have to do to prove your mettle? Lead the league in goals? Okay, got that. Demonstrate an ability to take a game into your own hands, and dominate said game? Got that. Show tremendous play-making skills? Got it. Yeah, Staal gets to go to Turin, but he'll be watching the games from the bleachers. Sitting alongside one of the most spectacular players in the game, Jason Spezza. That's so unfair.

Meanwhile, I think Canada was remiss in their inclusion of Shane Doan and Kris Draper. Yes, these guys provide international experience with Team Canada, but so does the rest of the roster. I don't like these two dudes, and I think it's a horrible mistake to deny Spezza and Staal a regular spot.
It's all academic anyway, since Canada should have a clear path to the medal round. They could easily put together two teams who would contend for gold.
In the end, Staal will get to stand on the podium, and he'll get the medal, but if he doesn't get a chance to play, it won't be the same feeling. Oh, and he'll get over it pretty quickly as he'll get to hoist the freakin' Cup in June.

Crosby? Sorry, but I just don't care. I think he's a little bitch. Granted, he's a little bitch who's a great hockey player, but he's a little bitch. One of my favorite moments from this season was in a game on October 29. The Canes were visiting Pittsburgh. While both teams were changing lines, there was a lot of commotion at the bench area. Vasicek and Crosby somehow got tangled. It was really quick. Crosby was running his mouth, and Big Joe caught him squarely in the face with a left cross that bent his head straight back like a PEZ dispenser.

Like I say, this is immaterial. Canada will win a medal without Crosby. They'll win a medal even if Staal and Spezza are in the stands.

In other Olympic roster news concerning Hurricanes, defenseman Frantisek Kaberle has been named to the Czech Republic's roster, and netminder Martin Gerber has been named to the Swiss team.

Former Canes Marek Malik (Czech Republic), Arturs Irbe (Latvia), and Sami Kapanen (Finland) were also asked to represent their countries.

1 comment:

EDC said...

I too would be upset about the exclusion of Staal if I was a Carolina fan. But comparing him to Doan & Draper misses the point. Of course Staal is a far better player than those two, but Greatzky & co. were looking for role players, specifically fourth line checkers. Gretzky had also said: no more taking 7 or 8 centers, and moving some of them to wing. So, for Staal to make the team outright, he would have had to beat out one of Sakic, Thornton and Lecavalier. Once you frame the question that way, the decision is understandable -- even if Staal is better today than those guys.


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