Sidney Crosby, Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Vincent Lecavalier, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Joe Sakic, Martin St. Louis, Jordan Staal and Rod Brind’Amour were on hand, an impressive collection of stars all with Canadian passports.
The 19-year-old Crosby, who stole the night by taking home both MVP awards in the Hart Trophy and Leaster B. Pearson, definitely hoped to skate alongside the players around him Wednesday night come the Vancouver Games.
“That would be so nice,” Crosby said enthusiastically. “I know watching the last Olympics, it was tough to see how it panned out. It’s just natural for any Canadian player to be part of that and help their country. You see the guys here tonight, hopefully this group of guys can be together at another time. It would be huge honour to be there.”
Don’t sweat it Sid, you’re on the team.
“I don’t think he’ll ever any problems making that team,” said Pronger. “But some of us old guys might.”
An early look at the 2010 roster might come late next summer, when Hockey Canada tentatively plans the first of two orientation camps in back-to-back years leading up to the February 2010 tournament. The management and coaching staff is expected to be named sometime next spring or early summer.
Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff was also on hand Wednesday, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award won by Alain Vigneault of the Canucks. Ruff’s name has been bandied about as a possible candidate to coach the 2010 Olympic team.
“First of all, it’s a tremendous honour to even hear that,” said Ruff, last year’s Jack Adams winner. “It’s something I’ve never been involved with and I would consider it a tremendous honour.”
Brodeur and Luongo were up for both the Hart and Vezina awards, Canada’s 1-2 punch in goal from the Turin Games and very likely again in 2010.
“We have such depth heading into 2010 with those two, and then you think of guys like Cam Ward and (J.S.) Giguere,” Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said in a phone interview. “We’ve never been beat in goal. That’s where the game starts.”
Brodeur edged Luongo for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s netminder Wednesday night, but just how long will the New Jersey Devils superstar stay one step ahead of the Vancouver Canucks netminder. Brodeur was No. 1 in Turin last year but will Luongo pass him in 2010?
“Marty has earned the top spot with us, but Luongo has certainly been there behind him and is now getting very close to beside him,” said Nicholson.
Luongo would relish the chance to be the No. 1 man come 2010.
“That would be great, especially since it’s in Vancouver,” he said. “That’s still a few years away, though. Right now I’m more focused on the Canucks and trying to take it to the next level. But I know if things go well my place will be there to have.”
Sakic, Canada’s captain in Turin, says Team Canada is a winner no matter who wins the goalie battle.
“There’s the two best goalies in the game,” said Sakic. “Whatever the goalie situation is in 2010, I don’t think it’s going to matter because one of those two will be in backstopping Canada.”
The question is, will the 38-year-old Sakic be around for another Olympics?
“We’re still three years away, so I don’t know,” said Burnaby Joe. “We’ll see how every year plays out. But if you can stay strong and keep doing the things you want to do, hopefully there’s a chance. It’s my hometown so for me it would be real special.”