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Yzerman: Team Canada putting ‘more of a premium’ on skating

Jul 23, 2013, 3:28 PM EDT

Steve Yzerman AP

The day after announcing invites to Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, GM Steve Yzerman shed some light into the selection process for Sochi.

“There will be more of a premium placed on skating,” he told Sportsnet. “Playing with a bigger ice surface, I believe there is a priority and an importance in being able to get around the ice, to skate.

“That weighed into our decision (for camp invites) and will weigh into our final decisions on putting this team together.”

Putting a priority on skating was evidence in the camp selection process.

One key member of Canada’s gold medal-winning side of four years ago, Jarome Iginla, wasn’t invited. Despite setting up Sidney Crosby for the game-winning goal in 2010, Iginla has slowed since the Vancouver Olympics, when games were played on an NHL-sized sheet of ice — in Sochi, players will skate on a sheet that’s 15 feet wider with more space behind the goal lines.

Yzerman’s invites acknowledge the change.

Speedsters like Taylor Hall and Matt Duchene were added to the forward group while on defense, the likes of P.K. Subban and Kris Letang were invited, whereas more physical, stay-at-home defensemen like Francois Beauchemin and Dan Girardi were passed over.

Yzerman said he learned lessons from the 2006 games in Turin, when a slower, big-bodied Canadian team (featuring Adam Foote, Todd Bertuzzi and Robyn Regehr) struggled to adapt to the larger surface.

“I just felt that (the Turin) team needed more speed, both on the back end and up front,” he said. “We’ll have a more mobile group this year.”

  1. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Guhhhhhhhisithockeyseasonyeeeeeetttttt bleh.

  2. Windmiller4 - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    So now they’re gonna be a mostly offensive team, with goaltending that on paper isn’t anywhere near the best in the tournament. What happens when they run into a well balanced defensive team? I’d love to see what a line of Brown, Backes, and Callahan could do to them.

    • timsabourin - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      ninja please, where did you see ‘mostly offensive’ anywhere in this article?

      • Windmiller4 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:22 PM

        Taking Subban and Letang over guys like beaucheman and girardi clearly states that they are going to be an offense oriented team. Hamonic, Seabrook, Staal, and Weber can all play the shut down role effectively. But all four of them won’t make it. Probably Seabrook and weber will, and that’s gonna be your best defensive pairing. What happens when they run into a team that has defense and goalies competent enough to handle their forwards? It will be interesting to see who they pick, as the old saying goes, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

      • 19to77 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty are extremely solid defensively. If anything it’s what they’re best at, despite some strong offensive seasons in the past. There are also Hamhuis and Pietrangelo, great in their own zones, and the potential to pick people not invited to the camp later on.

        Don’t forget, this is the same GM who took a 37-year old Niedermayer over Mike Green at the peak of his career. The only locks on defense will be Keith, Seabrook and Weber.

  3. yougotgirouxed - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    And America put a premium on kicking some Canadian ass.

  4. guitarmy204 - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    If they care about skating why is lucic there?

    • freestyle1022 - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:24 PM

      While he isnt the best skater in regards to stops and starts, the guy sure isnt slow when he gets going.

    • lonespeed - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      To offset Sydney Crosby. Man for crybaby.

      • imleftcoast - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        Claude Julien cries enough for the whole team. No one whines more than Boston.

  5. lonespeed - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:33 PM

    Top-Line…

    Jonathan Toews
    Eric Staal
    Sidney Crosby

    That’s just not fair at all.

    • yougotgirouxed - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      I cant see Crosby or Toews playing wing.

      • lonespeed - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Crosby played wing to Erik Staal four-years ago.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:06 PM

        Canada is so deep at centre some top guys are going to have to play wing if they want to make the team. I was just looking at it trying to build lines and it’s a pretty impressive group of forwards.

        Not sure why but I just picture Eric Staal being the third line centre (not a knock on him at all!) with Rick Nash and possibly John Tavares as the wingers.

        I could see a top line of Crosby-Giroux-Stamkos being pretty good.

  6. sjsharks86 - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Good skaters huh, well that just makes it more confusing as to why Marleau didn’t get picked then.

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:31 PM

      ^^^^^^^^ Yes, yes and yes

  7. 19to77 - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    As far as forwards go I wouldn’t mind seeing something like this:

    Tavares – Crosby – Stamkos
    Hall – Giroux – Nash
    E. Staal – Toews – Getzlaf
    Ladd – Bergeron – Duchene

    Top six is pretty open to competition with guys like Perry and Neal in the mix as well, but by recent performance those are the guys to go with.

    The third line looks weird, I know, but a shutdown line with three #1 centres, all of whom stand 6’2 or taller and weigh at least 208 pounds, is a pretty wicked prospect. The Americans have the Brown-Backes-Callahan line. Consider this a response.

    As for the fourth line, it’s the same idea – use defensively adept players with speed and an extra centre playing wing. Couture could fit in place of either winger too. Or Marchand, for synergy’s sake.

    • timsabourin - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    • shoobiedoobin - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:38 PM

      Don’t worry about that Brown/Backes/Callahan line. 2 of the 3 will spend most of the game laying on the ice.

  8. dkphilly1122 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    I just can’t wait to see USA take home the Gold this time!! I think they are more balanced than Canada. Not to say Canada sucks by any means. They got nastier Forwards for sure and the Defense is pretty nasty, but there Goalies don’t stack up like USA or other teams. Ether way I can’t wait for Hockey to just start. We will all finally be able to agree and talk about hockey together, ha. It is the only time we ever can!! God Bless the U.S.A.!!

    • flydommo - Jul 24, 2013 at 3:45 AM

      If a team is able to roll all four forward lines effectively such as Canada, I think the goaltending advantage of the U.S. quickly evaporates. To make sure they can exert offensive pressure at all times, the Canadians are going to select offensively gifted, fast skaters and won’t come up with a mucking and grinding fourth line like in Turin. Plus, I don’t think a world class goalie is essential if you play behind the likes of Weber, Keith, Seabrook, Doughty and the like.

  9. tbbolts91 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Hey Steve, while you’re at it, can you get the lightning to be a playoff contender…?

  10. shoobiedoobin - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Why don’t you see any real game changing grinders in these tournaments? When all you’re doing it stacking skill like a video game it might pay off to utilize something Canadians for the most part do better than anyone. A 4th line with Lucic/Helm/whoever could be a nightmare to play against. Helm is a total game changer and could make life hell for any opposing defensemen he’s up against. He’s also got very underrated vision and hockey instincts, and add Lucic to his line and you could send those guys out to physically wear down the other team (something that rarely happens in these sorts of games). It’s risky and unorthodox but someday someone’s going to try it and it’ll work wonders. Just wait and see.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:23 PM

      They tried that in 2006 with the Grind Line and basically wasted 3 spots on guys who had no business in the tournament. Remember those 3 were selected over Crosby.

      The ice is too big for those types of players to be nearly as effective as they are in the NHL.

      • shoobiedoobin - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:46 AM

        Without speed? You’re 100% right. With speed, you’re 100% wrong. A couple of slow players like Bertuzzi weren’t clicking but Draper did fine. I thought his performance was underrated. But a guy like Helm could do wonders for Canada.

  11. ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Premium on skating. Where Marleau then ?

  12. mrpinkca - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    This makes leaving Patty Marleau off the camp roster an even weirder decision.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:44 PM

      Might be that he talked to them and asked to have the time off to rest an injury or has a prior commitment etc., just like Jason Spezza is. Just because a player isn’t on this list doesn’t mean they won’t make the roster, the perfect example being in net, if some Canadian goalie not at the camp gets hot is lighting it up prior to the announcement date I’m sure he’ll be selecte.

      This list of 47 isn’t the be all and end all, it’s just a starting point.

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM

      Marleau sums up premium skating, wtf

  13. flydommo - Jul 24, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    Placing the emphasis on speed and skating is certainly the right decision. Goaltending seems to be a little bit of an issue while I think there is no shortage of fast-paced forwards. Weber, Doughty, Keith and Seabrook to me form the core of the defense, Subban and Letang might step in as offensive defensemen, especially on the PP.
    Canada to me are favourites, but the Swedes will be tough to beat on the larger ice surface, and the Russians, despite their lack of quality defensemen, will certainly be dangerous on home ice. I don’t see the Czechs as contenders, nor Switzerland. The Finns may end up in the top four. I don’t think the U.S. will play a big role, despite growing expectations.

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