The first big decisions are coming for Steve Yzerman. And they won’t be easy.
Simply identifying the 45 or so players who will attend the summer orientation camp will be tough for the Team Canada boss. He plans to send the invites out before July 1 and admits that some difficult choices need to be made.
Prior to that, Yzerman will name his coaching staff and intends to consult with them before putting any invitations in the mail.
The former Detroit Red Wings captain has had quite a bit to digest over the past couple months after watching players in pressure situations – either as part of the Stanley Cup playoffs or at the IIHF World Hockey Championship in Switzerland.
The Stanley Cup final brings to light what ultimately might be the toughest choice of all: Who will be in net when Canada takes the ice in Vancouver next February?
Chris Osgood and Marc-Andre Fleury are the only Canadian goaltenders playing meaningful hockey for the second straight June and neither has previously found his name as part of the Olympic conversation. However, given some difficult playoff performances from Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo, both seem like more of a possibility.
At the very least, they will probably be invited to the orientation camp.
Osgood joked earlier this week that he’d be lobbying Yzerman and Red Wings GM Ken Holland at the lake during the off-season. He firmly believes he’s up to the task.
“Could I do it? Oh, for sure I could do it,” said Osgood. “I could play there. I think I have the mental makeup and I think I’m skilled enough to play there. But whether or not that happens, I have no idea. I’d have to have a better regular season in the first half than I obviously did this year. …
“If I’m there or not, it’s great just to be mentioned and to be considered.”
Last month, The Canadian Press had Brodeur, Luongo and Cam Ward as its three goalies for the 2010 team. We’ve chosen to sub in Osgood as the third man and would now rate Fleury above Ward in the pecking order after beating him in a head-to-head playoff matchup.
Otherwise, there are no major changes to our lineup because all of the other bubble players have gone home for the summer. It should be noted that we’re now placing Steven Stamkos on the fringes of consideration after a standout performance at the world championship, but he’s going to need an incredible start next season to steal a spot.
Martin Brodeur (New Jersey): It wasn’t the kind of year he’d been hoping for, but he’s still our starter.
Roberto Luongo (Vancouver): No longer the lock he once was after a tough playoff loss to Chicago.
Chris Osgood (Detroit): Always overlooked and under appreciated; hard to ignore that he’s currently after his third Stanley Cup as the Red Wings starter.
Chris Pronger (Anaheim): Already a three-time Olympian.
Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim): Still hasn’t announced that he’s playing next season.
Shea Weber (Nashville): A workhorse who will likely win a Norris Trophy before his career is done.
Duncan Keith (Chicago): Was a key contributor during Blackhawks run to Western Conference final.
Jay Boumeester (Florida): Would be surprising to see him playing in south Florida next season.
Dan Boyle (San Jose): One of the few bright spots during disappointing first-round loss.
Mike Green (Washington): Abysmal performance in the playoffs puts some tarnish on a great regular season.
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): This is going to be Sid’s team.
Jarome Iginla (Calgary): … and Jarome’s.
Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay): Will he still be auditioning as a member of the Lightning next season?
Rick Nash (Columbus): Finally got to play a post-season game.
Dany Heatley (Ottawa): Another winger with size and scoring touch.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim): A force for the Ducks during the post-season.
Jeff Carter (Philadelphia): Had a breakout season for the Flyers.
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): Was arguably the best player Canada had at the world championship.
Shane Doan (Phoenix): A solid checking forward who always answers the bell for Team Canada.
Mike Richards (Philadelphia): Can’t wait to see him on a shutdown unit with Doan.
Simon Gagne (Philadelphia): Needs a great start to the season.
Joe Thornton (San Jose): Ditto.
Jonathan Toews (Chicago): His first long playoff run adds some experience.
G Cam Ward, D Robyn Regehr, D Drew Doughty, D Brent Seabrook, F Eric Staal, F Corey Perry, F Steven Stamkos.