Luongo and Price are two of the 15 returnees vying for a chance to defend their title in Sochi
Team Canada’s participation at the 2014 Olympics has already been confirmed but now it’s time for the coaching staff and directors to begin the process of picking a team. On Monday morning Steve Yzerman, Executive Director of Hockey Canada, announced the 47 players who will be invited to an Olympic orientation camp in Calgary this August (25th to 28th) and 15 of those 47 were part of the Gold Medal roster from 2010.
Coaches have also been announced and there are a lot of familiar faces in that group as well. Mike Babcock will be joined by Lindy Ruff and Ken Hitchcock, all three of whom were there in 2010. Claude Julien was also chosen as the only newcomer. Babcock is the only coach to have won a Gold medal, Stanley Cup and World Championship.
The motto for selecting this team sounds a lot like 2009, when Yzerman said he was committed to making his team ‘younger’. 12 of the 23 players to make that roster were 25 or younger and 15 had never before played on the Olympic team. With the crop of young talent available in this pool, players such as Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux and PK Subban, those trends will likely continue.
Teams will break for the Olympics on February 9, 2014 and the action begins February 12. Canada’s first game is slated for the 13th against Norway and early Team Canada hockey odds favor the Canucks at 3 to 1 but those will likely fall as puck heads slowly start to plug money from sports betting accounts onto the returning champs.
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In 2010, Canada was the favorite to win Gold and odds went from -105 in December as high as -250 by puck drop in February
Canada won Gold in Salt Lake 11 years ago (2002) and that was their first Olympic title in 50 years. They finished seventh overall in 2006 before returning to the winner’s circle in 2010. As always, starting goaltender will be a hotly debated subject and the five candidates are Corey Crawford (CHI), Braden Holtby (WSH), Roberto Luongo (VAN), Carey Price (MTL) and Mike Smith (PHX). Yzerman said he’ll worry about who the starter is once they whittle the list down to the three who make the team. He also thinks the first few months of the regular NHL season will probably help with that decision making process. Lou and Price have the inside edge on the goaltending roster and both were part of the winning team in 2010 along with Devils legend Martin Brodeur.
Ice time in Sochi will be much more limited for teams than it was in the Vancouver games because of insurance issues and logistics but it shouldn’t be a real problem since so many of these coaches and players were together in Vancouver. Systems won’t change significantly and these elite players are more than capable of picking up subtle changes to neutral zone systems, forechecks and special teams play on the fly. The team will also have three preliminary games against Austria, Norway and Finland to get ready for the qualification playoffs and by that point, we expect Team Canada to be running like a well-oiled machine.
These guys have veteran leadership, they are competitive and a lot of them will have already demonstrated chemistry from playing together in the pros and at previous international events. Making the final cuts won’t be an easy decision and Canada will be wearing a bull’s eye as the world’s best try to dethrone the champs but with Sidney Crosby wearing the “C” this team has plenty of potential for a repeat.
Here is the complete list of current odds to win Olympic Gold in Sochi from Sports Interaction:
2014 Men’s Olympic Hockey
*Including Playoffs – Winner Only
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