There’s a lot to be said for timely commentary. As I’ve often mentioned, my email box is full of links that I email myself from work about things I want to research deeper and blog about. I often never do and so the pile of emails grows larger and larger until I go looking through them and wonder why back in the day I sent myself some random Slashdot thread.
Even right now, there’s something I want to write about an article in last week’s issue of the Coast, but have never gotten to it yet. Maybe…sometime.
Anyway, so to try to be timely, I’ll comment on the big hockey news. Canada is out of the men’s competition. Bob McKenzie calls it a colossal failure. I have to agree.
He also said the problem was more then just a few people not clicking, which after watching a lot of the games (thankfully work has a TV in the boardroom and everyone loves sports), I have to agree again. The entire team appeared to lack a drive, a kick, an intensity level. No one seemed to be able to drop it into a higher gear.
Anyway, the team lost and this is now the period of navel gazing and second guessing. Everyone will be throwing out names like Crosby, Staal and Phaneuf as young guys who could have made it. Everyone will be watching the World Championships in May with a bit more earnest attention to see how Canada rebounds.
I still don’t think Crosby should have been there. This is not a situation like Ovechkin and Malkin, Crosby is a year younger (two years in Ovechkin’s case) and the age difference is apparent. These two Russian guys have been playing pro hockey in Russia since they were 16, while Crosby has been coddled by the Canadian Hockey League and others since before that time. You can see it in the way he approaches the game in the NHL level, that there is still an immaturity issue there. I think Crosby will be an excellent player, but he should not have been on this team. This whole city is probably going to question not having Sid the Kid, but focus on the kid part, because it’s true. I don’t think he would have been able to magically change the teams fortunes.
My thoughts are this: the team was slow, this is four years since Salt Lake. Sakic is now 36, so is Blake, Foote is 34. The rest of the team seemed just as old. The teams that beat Canada: Russia, Finland, Switzerland; they all outskated Canada and were able to skate hard enough to avoid pressure from Canada’s bigger bodies going for checks. The lack of speed was also apparent when holding the blueline or entering the zone. The defense couldn’t keep up with the play and so when they committed themselves to pinch, a turnover resulted in an odd man rush the other way, or they had to play conservative and hang back, often not being there for passes back to the point.
So as the teams are outskating Canada, Canadian players have to reach farther to stop incoming attacks, leading to interference penalties, made woeful by the lack of speed with the man down. Then when players like Bertuzzi or Pronger actually get a guy, their frustration shows through, like it does at times in the NHL, and they take poor aggressive penalties, like roughing calls.
You can not fault the goaltending, both Brodeur and Luongo were excellent. But the forward corps looked too often for the pass, and never the shoot. It seemed no one wanted to be selfish and take a shot. I’m surprised by all the shots that came up at the end of the game. When players like Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley, all of whom are not to sneeze at in the goal scoring department, do fancy schmancy drop passes and try the high risk feeds, then there is a problem.
I don’t like the Vancouver Canucks. They are honestly my least favorite team in the NHL and I can’t even explain it. I like no one on that team, save for maybe Jason King. But acknowledging that bias, Todd Bertuzzi was terrible. Steve Moore soap opera aside, he is an undisciplined player and this tournament showed that. He took bad penalties and produced little. Worst player for Team Canada.
However, Pat Quinn kept sending Big Bad Bert out there shift after shift, while guys like Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash sat on the bench. Perhaps the change in the Olympic team needs to start from the top. When the team was named, a lot of people criticized Gretzky for picking the ‘old boys’, rewarding his pals who’ve done it before. It now appears those critics were right and I would include the coaching staff in there just as much as anyone else. New blood is needed, a newer face for the team. Next Olympics is on Canadian soil in Vancouver, and the old guys like Sakic and Blake won’t be there.
I’m disappointed, but it will be interesting to see what happens next. Hopefully not more canned excuses.