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One year to go until Vancouver

XXI Olympic Winter Games promise to be the greatest ever

12-02-09

The end of the Olympic qualification tournaments last weekend solidified the preliminary round picture for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

And as of Thursday, February 12, the 10 (sic) participating women’s teams and 12 men’s squads have exactly one year to prepare for what is one of the most highly-anticipated Olympic hockey tournaments ever.

Not only will the 2010 Olympics be held in hockey’s heartland and birthplace, it will feature the top players from all countries as the NHL has agreed to let its player’s participate in the Games. Below is a group-by-group glimpse of what to expect when the puck is dropped in one year.

Men:

Group A: Canada, United States, Switzerland, Norway

All eyes will naturally be on the Canada-USA game in this preliminary round group as both nations are looking to atone for non-medal finishes in the 2006 Games in Turin. The Canada-Switzerland game is also likely to have fireworks after Switzerland beat Canada at the 2006 Olympics, essentially starting the Canadian downward spiral at those Games. Of all 12 teams, Norway is the lowest-ranked (12th), yet could provide the biggest surprise as the hockey program is improving at a rapid pace. Norway had a quarterfinal appearance at last year’s World Championship and is ripe to continue on the same path.

Group B: Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia

One of the more interesting groups in terms of geographic rivalries is likely to also be one of the most overlooked preliminary round groups. Most onlookers expect the Russians, with a full roster and a 2008 World Championship gold medal, to be the team to beat in this group. Russia is certainly the team on the upswing, with the strength of the recently formed KHL and two consecutive World Championship medals. But the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia are very evenly balanced, and could provide one of the tightest preliminary round group results.

Group C: Sweden, Finland, Belarus, Germany

Much like Group A, this group is highlighted by natural rivals Sweden and Finland, which duelled it out for the gold medal four years ago in Turin. Sweden went on to win the gold medal at the World Championship the same year, but has done nothing on the medal podium since. In contrast, Finland earned a silver medal in 2007 and a bronze in 2008 at the World Championship. Belarus and Germany are also two teams that compliment each other well and have the potential to play spoiler for the two Nordic favourites.

Women:

Group A: Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia

The days of two-team dominance in women’s hockey are over and this preliminary round group is proof. Consider that Sweden played Canada for the gold medal in Turin, while at last year’s World Championship the Swiss upended Sweden in the preliminary round. Of course, Canada will have the huge advantage of home ice in Vancouver, which may be enough to ward off any upsets in the preliminary round. But nevertheless, Sweden, Switzerland and Slovakia, which stunned the women’s hockey world by earning Olympic berth as the lowest-seeded (17th) women’s team, aren’t the pushovers that fans may assume.

Group B: United States, Finland, Russia, China

In 2006, the United States had the first major stumble in women’s Olympic competition in terms of the USA-Canada rivalry after missing the gold medal game for the first time in the nation’s history. Now the U.S. is rejuvenated with a promising younger class of players and hopes to reclaim its place in the golden game. Standing in the way, most notably, will be the Finns, which are also out to prove that they are not the second-best Nordic nation since Sweden has surged since the 2006 Games. Russia and China have each struggled in recent years in the World Championship, but at the Olympics, miracles can happen.

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the Women's Tournament is actually eight teams...

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Yzerman already refining 2010 player list

By Chris Johnston, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Steve Yzerman is watching. And he's revising.

The executive director of Canada's Olympic men's hockey team is already working off a fairly short list of players to consider for 2010, but it's certainly not written in stone. In fact, Yzerman and his advisers are likely to make some changes to their top secret A-list when they get together next month.

"Players are popping onto the radar screen that are having better years," Yzerman said Thursday on a conference call. "(Since) early November, there's a handful of guys that we hadn't really thought that much about or discussed a lot. ... That list potentially will be fine-tuned a little bit.

"Names may be removed and names may be added to it."

For obvious reasons, Yzerman avoided getting into specifics about individual players. But there are a few obvious examples who have improved their stock: Philadelphia's Jeff Carter (34 goals), Calgary's Mike Cammalleri (28 goals) and Boston's Marc Savard (63 points) are all having strong campaigns up front; and Columbus rookie goaltender Steve Mason (19-12-2, 2.09 GAA) has also put himself on the radar.

The goaltending position in general has provided the Olympic management team with a tangible example of what can potentially go wrong over the next year. Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo are considered shoe-ins for the team, but each has missed considerable time this season because of injury.

"If this happens next December, obviously that brings in different goaltenders," said Yzerman. "It really reinforces to me and our group that we have to be out there and know all these goaltenders - know all these players for that matter."

A key part of the education originates with that list of roughly 40 players.

The management group is employing a pretty fluid method of evaluation. Yzerman, Ken Holland, Kevin Lowe and Doug Armstrong all work off the agreed list of top prospects and have frequent conversations about those players.

"(The list) is just a reference point and good for our discussion," explained Yzerman. "When you're out watching games, it's something good to look at, to pay attention to.

"It forces you to really go out and watch some of these guys that you might not know that well."

There is still hope for Olympic hopefuls who aren't currently under the microscope.

The management team is approaching the process with an open mind and isn't interested in awarding spots based on past achievement or reputation. Essentially, that means that any NHLer with a Canadian passport could theoretically play his way into the mix.

"I'm not prepared today to say, 'this player's definitely not in consideration or this guy's definitely on the team' - it's far too early," said Yzerman. "A player's level of play can change a lot throughout the course of the season, let alone between this season and next."

The only guarantee is that the decision-makers will be casting a close eye on as many games as possible during that time.

"I watch a lot of hockey," said Yzerman. "Hockey's become somewhat of a six to seven day a week job for the time being."

The Vancouver Games will be the fourth Olympic hockey tournament played with NHLers.

Even though they've all come with sky-high expectations and scrutiny from Canadian hockey fans, this experience will likely top them all. Yzerman deflected a question about the pressure on his team, noting that the Russians, Swedes and others will also arrive in British Columbia expecting to win gold.

It's not an answer that other countries are buying.

"I was there in Vancouver when they opened that envelope and said, 'Vancouver,"' said Brian Burke, the U.S. general manager. "At that moment, all of the pressure shifted to the Canadian team for the hockey part of this tournament. How they handle that is going to be a huge part of whether they're successful or not.

"The Olympics are this huge elephant on the sports page. You're talking a religious part of Canada that hockey represents and now they're playing for a gold medal on home soil? The pressure's immense."

It's something that the players won't truly have to deal with for a year. In the meantime, Yzerman and his executive team will be shouldering most of the load.

They plan to name a coaching staff shortly after the Stanley Cup final in June and will extend invites to the summer orientation camp around July 1. Following that, the camp will be held Aug 24-28 in Calgary and the final 23-man roster will likely be announced in December.

Even though that's still 10 months away from now, many Canadians are already crafting their desired Olympic rosters. Yzerman gets a kick out of seeing that.

"I love sitting and listening to people's opinions on who should be there and who should be coaching," he said. "More information is good."

Of course, there's really nothing an outsider can teach him.

Even though Yzerman is surrounded by many capable hockey men, he acknowledges that there might be some situations down the road where he has to make an important call on his own.

"I like to talk to people, I like to ask questions," said Yzerman. "But I think there's some danger in (getting too much advice). At the end of the day, I've got to make some decisions and I've got to have my own idea of what I want to do regardless of what we're discussing.

"It's good to gather as much information as I can. You get different opinions and different viewpoints, but then I've just got to go sit down and think about it and make a decision at that time."

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Burke anticipates difficult choices for 2010 Olympics

By Chris Johnston, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Brian Burke has never been so happy to have a headache.

The general manager of the U.S. Olympic team anticipates having several difficult choices ahead of the 2010 Games in Vancouver. To him, that's a sign of progress for a national program that is producing more top-notch players.

It just makes his job a little tougher.

"That's a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful headache to have," Burke said Thursday on a conference call. "Thank you USA Hockey for making this difficult. I'd much rather have a deeper pool to choose from.

"It creates a headache, but pass me the Aspirin. I'm very happy to have it."

One of the more intriguing questions Burke and his management staff will face is whether this is the Games to move completely beyond the old guard. Stalwarts like Keith Tkachuk and Mike Modano are still being considered but might find themselves watching when the Games are played next February.

In their place will be younger guys like Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Dustin Brown.

Most of the high-end skill players that are likely to suit up for the U.S. are relatively small. The general manager wasn't afraid to acknowledge that fact.

"I predict that we will be the smallest and youngest team in the tournament," said Burke. "And I predict that not one cent is going to be bet on Team USA in Vegas. But we're going there to win anyhow.

"I don't mind going in (as an underdog)."

Like Canada, the U.S. will be looking to improve on a disappointing result in Turin. The Americans went out in the quarter-finals in 2006 and only registered a victory over Kazahkstan during the event.

Don Waddell helped assemble the squad that went to Italy and will be back again as part of Burke's management group. Part of his job is reliving the disappointment of the last Olympics.

"We're going back and second guessing and nitpicking and trying to figure out what went wrong in the selection process," said Burke. "You can't learn from your mistakes unless you examine them. Once you examine them, you put them behind you and move on. ...

"(Don's) experience is invaluable to us."

The experience goes well beyond that.

David Poile is the U.S. team's associate GM and Paul Holmgren and Ray Shero are also part of the selection group. Dean Lombardi is also lending his hand as a scout.

One of the trickier decisions that lies ahead for the group is deciding on a coach. Some have suggested that Burke almost has to choose Ron Wilson because the two currently work together in Toronto and are longtime friends.

He dismissed that notion.

"One, I think we're better friends than that," said Burke. "But two, this decision isn't going to be made by Brian Burke. This team's going to be put together by this group."

There will also be decisions to be made on players.

The management team has already narrowed its candidate pool down to 50 players and only plans on inviting 30 of those men to the team's summer orientation camp in Chicago. Burke expects the second-guessing to start right away.

"There's a lot more than 28 good hockey players in the United States," he said. "There's going to be some disappointed people and there's going to be some people yelling and screaming and pointing fingers. That's the beauty of selection. ...

"It'll be an interesting time."

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My 2010 Canadian Olympic roster

Allan Muir, INSIDE THE NHL, SI.com

It's the standard conceit of the Canadian hockey fan: If only the IOC would allow it, Canada has the depth of talent to enter two teams. And both would likely medal. Problem is, each country is allowed just one side in the Olympic tournament, making roster decisions more challenging, and more controversial, in Canada than anywhere else.

And, as experience shows, depth doesn't count nearly as much as chemistry. A gentle reminder for those who've managed to flush the painful memories: In 2006, the last time Canada sent out its finest, they fumbled and bumbled their way to a dismal seventh-place finish.

Hate to imagine what Canada 2 would have done.

Coming off the gold medal win in Salt Lake City -- the country's first in 50 years -- and World Cup title in 2004, expectations were high in Turin. But from early in the preliminary round, it was clear that the team was something less than the sum of its considerable parts.

The gang that couldn't shoot straight was blanked in three of its final four games, and while fans moaned that photographic evidence proved they'd been robbed in a 2-0 loss to the Swiss, that was arguing too fine a point. That group was too old, too slow and, in the case of Todd Bertuzzi in particular (who can forget his interference penalty that ankled Canada in the quarter-final loss to Russia?), lacked the discipline needed to win this type of event.

So the challenge for first-time Olympic GM Steve Yzerman heading into 2010 is clear: Forget the loyalties that shackled the roster in Turin and simply build the best possible team to win in Vancouver. Youth no longer can be seen as a detriment. Speed will be paramount. Enthusiasm, not obligation, should be the motivation. And if that means some world-class players will be left to wonder why there can't be a Canada 2, so be it.

The team won't be chosen until January, so performance and health will impact the final roster. But a year out from the event, here's how we think the roster will stack up.

Goaltenders

No. 1: Martin Brodeur

If he's healthy, it's hard to imagine Canada not going with the man who led them to gold at both the 2002 Olympics and 2004 World Cup. But will he be at the top of his game? The torn biceps that has sidelined him much of this season will be a subject of concern.

No. 2: Roberto Luongo

Even if Brodeur is able to play, this hometown hero has earned the chance to wrestle away the top job. He has a 12-2-3 record with a GAA under 2.00 while wearing the maple leaf.

No. 3: Steve Mason

With a gold medal on his shelf from the 2008 World Juniors and a legitimate shot at the Vezina, Mason has the look of Canada's goalie of tomorrow. An internship under the bright lights would help his preparation for future tournaments.

Defensemen

First pair: Robyn Regehr and Duncan Keith

They may not have the profile of some elite defenders, but Regehr and Keith will prove to be Canada's dynamic duo. Keith struggled at last year's World Championships, but has emerged this season as arguably the best two-way defender in the game. What little press he gets focuses on his transition skills, but he's as gritty and reliable as they come in his own end. Regehr is steady, physical and smart. His international experience will be invaluable.

Second pair: Chris Pronger and Shea Weber

When Canada needs a physical response, they'll call on this duo. Pronger's play has slipped this season, so he'll need to amp it up to secure this shutdown role. Weber gets plenty of press for his booming shot, but plays a hard-hitting game that recalls a younger, more disciplined Pronger.

Third pair: Jay Bouwmeester and Mike Green

Even with the distraction of his looming free agency, Jay-Bo is playing the finest hockey of his career. Green will quarterback Canada's power play -- a critical role considering the failure of that unit in Turin.

Seventh: Brent Burns

Versatile winger/blueliner might have locked up his spot last spring when he was named top defender at the World Championships

Forwards

First line (left to right): Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla

We finally could see Crosby at his best, skating alongside a couple of wingers capable of finishing his slick passes. Carter probably wasn't on Canada's radar six months ago. Now, as the country's leading goal-scorer, he'll play an integral role. Iginla's experience and leadership will help deflect the pressure from Crosby. Look for him to wear the C.

Second line: Dany Heatley, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash

Chemistry is key in the tournament format, and this trio has it. Led by Getzlaf -- maybe the best all-around player in the game -- this line was Canada's finest at the World Championships, combining for 21 goals and 47 points in just nine games. Their blend of size, speed and brute force will be tough to contain.

Third line: Simon Gagne, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau

The Hockey Canada braintrust is enamored of Thornton's size and puck skills, but he needs a couple of finishers to maximize his impact. Gagne seems to have moved past the post-concussion syndrome that sidelined him much of last season and returned to his 40-goal form. Marleau might not be there if not for Thornton, but his familiarity with Jumbo Joe makes him the ideal complement to the line, even if he has to move to his off-wing.

Fourth line: Brenden Morrow, Mike Richards, Shane Doan

Canada always relies heavily on its checking unit, so this line may get as much ice as Crosby's does. All three are warriors, the sort of players who'll block a shot with their teeth if that's what it takes, but these bangers can also finish. Morrow has to prove he's recovered fully from the knee injury that sidelined him most of the season, but his playoff performance in 2008 demonstrated his value.

13th Forward: Marc Savard

Once regarded as a points-obsessed player, Savard has matured into a gritty, two-way forward who can fill any role on the team.

Taxi Squad: Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Drew Doughty

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My 2010 U.S. Olympic roster

Michael Farber, INSIDE THE NHL, SI.com

With his team eliminated from medal contention in Turin in 2006, dejected U.S. Olympic hockey coach Peter Laviolette faced a packed room in his final post-game press conference. In a sportswriter's fantasy world, the coach would have prefaced his remarks with, "You know, most of you out there gave us no shot at a medal, and boy, I guess you guys were bang-on."

He didn't, of course. Real life -- even the Olympics -- doesn't work that way. Laviolette, professional as ever, merely fielded questions about the implosion of his 1-4-1 team that rarely got the big save from Rick DiPietro or the big goal from his formidable offensive threats, including the frustrated Mike Modano, whom he benched in the final game, a 4-3 quarterfinal loss to eventual silver-medalist Finland.

But the truth was this: The U.S. team in Turin was too old, essentially a second (and third and fourth) coming of the 1996 World Cup champions that was playing on memory. Not that general manager Don Waddell had all that many options, no wellspring of excellent choices that Hockey Canada faces every four years. Too many of the talented, younger American players simply weren't ready in 2006. Maybe they are now.

Four years later against stacked Russian and Canadian teams and the dangerous Swedes, USA Hockey will find out if this Lost Generation of young players can again produce a medal if not a miracle.

A year away from the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, this is what Team USA could look like.

Goaltender

No. 1: Tim Thomas

Although Ryan Miller is the probable No. 1, the unorthodox Thomas does nothing well except stop the puck and win. Every Thomas save is like a snowflake, different from every other, but notice how rarely the red light goes on. Vancouver could be the workingman's goalie's moment.

No. 2: Ryan Miller

Recovering from a broken thumb sustained late in 2005, Miller, a potential difference-maker in Turin, was foolishly left off the 2006 squad. (Waddell should have taken a flyer on him instead of John Grahame or Robert Esche.) Miller will be an integral part of this team, assuming he gets the starting job.

No. 3: Jonathan Quick

If the NHL ultimately does send players to Sochi 2014, the Los Angeles Kings rookie would benefit from the Olympic experience.

Defensemen

First pair: Ryan Suter (left) and Brian Rafalski (right)

This will be a first-rate, puck-moving pair, capable of dealing with high-tempo Olympic hockey. Suter is starting to blossom while Rafalski, a power-play catalyst, is having one of his best NHL seasons with Detroit.

Second pair: Ryan Whitney (left) and Mike Komisarek (right)

Komisarek is the physical shutdown defenseman, playing the customary Derian Hatcher role for Team USA. Whitney has been slowed by his foot injury that required surgery last summer, but that will be in the rearview mirror next February.

Third pair: Paul Martin (left) and Jack Johnson (right)

There is a paucity of right-side American defenseman, but if the oft-injured Johnson is healthy and has a solid start next fall, he can play regular minutes and provide some oomph. If not, John-Michael Liles adds a puck-mover to the pair.

Taxi squad: Johnson/Liles and Matt Niskanen.

Forwards

First line (left to right): Zach Parise, Paul Statsny, Phil Kessel

Kessel has all-world speed, but needs a center to get him the puck. Scott Gomez, the other prospective center of this line, carries it too much, which would not take the proper advantage of his two superb wingers. Parise, who has a chance for 50 goals this season, could dazzle.

Second line: Dustin Brown, Scott Gomez, Patrick Kane

Brown is the ideal banging/scoring winger for two skaters who should be able to work give-and-go's. Despite his current sub-par performance with the Rangers, few are as passionate about playing for Team USA as Gomez.

Third line: David Booth, Chris Drury, Brian Gionta

Team USA would have a third scoring line with the emerging Booth and Drury, who often plays well in pressure situations. The problematic element is the undersized Gionta, whose production has slipped every year since Turin. Jason Pominville might fit in that spot.

Fourth line: Jason Blake/Pominville, Ryan Kesler, Jamie Langenbrunner

As much as we like Paul Gaustad, Kesler figures to best fit the role of checking center. If Pominville can't play the off wing -- he's a right-handed shot -- Blake, who can play either wing and has been a bright spot in Toronto this season, will likely be willing to return to his crash-bang, fourth-line roots and do whatever he must in a last hurrah for Team USA.

Taxi squad: Blake Wheeler and Blake/Pominville.

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USA hockey facing age-old questions in preparing for Olympics

By Craig Custance - SportingNews

Brian Burke was looking for a nickname or a phrase to describe the generation of Team USA hockey players who are hitting the twilight of their careers.

He was looking for the right description of guys like Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Doug Weight, Bill Guerin and Chris Chelios, players who have all been instrumental to the successes and failures of the U.S. Olympic team for years.

Finally he settled on a phrase: his group of warriors.

For years, this group has been the identity of American hockey, but while Burke addressed the media during a conference call on Thursday—one year away from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver—it became clear that the identity of the U.S. team next February will be dramatically different.

“I predict we’ll be the smallest and youngest team in the tournament,” said Burke, the general manager of the 2010 U.S. hockey team. “Not one cent will be bet on us in Vegas but we’re going there to win anyhow. I don’t mind going in on an underdog role.”

Young? Small? Doesn’t exactly sound like Tkachuk or Guerin, does it? While Burke’s attempt to take the pressure off his team and place it on the home Canadians is noble, there will be enough young talent on the U.S. roster like Zach Parise, Patrick Kane and Paul Stastny to lure at least a few cents worth of betting in Vegas.

But the United States’ ultimate basis for success will be how Burke and the other GMs—Paul Holmgren, Ray Shero, Don Waddell and David Poile—handle the transition of the old guard of American stars to the new one.

Do you keep a few veterans around? Do you phase them out? Do you go completely young? Those decisions will have to be made between now and August 17 when Burke wants to bring fewer than 30 Olympic hopeful players to Chicago for orientation.

The only player Burke seemed willing to rule out was Chelios, who will be 48 when the opening ceremonies start. Burke called Chelios the greatest hockey player to represent the country in international competition and wants Chelios involved, though it won’t be as a player.

As for the future of the rest of Burke’s aging warriors, that’s still to be determined.

“We have not resolved that and at no point have we said … we don’t or can’t use any of that great generation of U.S. players,” Burke said. “These guys showed up at every tournament and did it with pride and valor.”

Entering this season, it might have been easier to write off the veterans but Tkachuk has been part of the reason the young and injured Blues continue to battle for a spot in the playoffs. He has 17 goals.

Mike Modano was an All-Star and has helped the Stars overcome a brutal start to get back in the playoff race.

Before he injured his knee Doug Weight’s resurgence had made him a sought-after center for contending teams at the trade deadline.

“I’m going to try and do the best I can to play as well as I can to play in another Olympics,” Tkachuk told SportingNews.com during a discussion about it this summer. “That’s all I can do. If you play well, you’re going to be considered. If you don’t, you’re not. How old you are? That doesn’t matter to me.”

For now, it doesn’t sound like it matters to Burke, either. Would it be easier for a player like Kane to take more of a leadership role without a dominant personality like Tkachuk in the room? Without a doubt.

But in Burke’s opinion, this comes down to winning not easing the transition. Over the course of the next few months, if he and the other managers feel like the veterans give the U.S. the best shot at gold, they’ll be considered.

“No one is drawing lines,” Burke said. “We’re trying to take the 20 best skaters and win a tournament. If that means a group of some of the old warriors go along, they go along.”

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2002 MEN’S AND WOMEN’S GOLD MEDAL-WINNING OLYMPIC TEAMS EARN INDUCTION INTO CANADIAN OLYMPIC HALL OF FAME

VANCOUVER – Seven years after claiming gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics, Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s and women’s hockey teams will be honoured by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) at the 2009 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Gala Dinner & Induction Ceremony in Vancouver on March 26. The teams will be joined by Dr. Robert Hindmarch, who has left a lasting legacy in amateur hockey across Canada and will be inducted as a builder.

Other inductees include gold medal-winning figure skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and swimming coach Howard Firby. Dr. Jean Grenier will receive the Canadian Olympic Order.

2002 Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team: Canada had been close in the past, falling in the gold medal game in 1992 and 1994, coming tantalizingly close to the country’s first Olympic hockey gold medal since 1950. But with Canadian legend Wayne Gretzky in charge, hopes were high in Salt Lake City.

An opening-game loss to Sweden put the country on edge, but goaltender Martin Brodeur put the team on his back – going 4-0-1 with a 1.80 goals against average in Canada’s final five games.

After a semifinal win over the surprising Belarusians, Canada faced off with the U.S. with Olympic gold on the line. More than 10 million Canadians – one-third of the country’s population – watched the gold medal game, making it the most-watched Canadian TV program ever.

It was the U.S. who hit the board first, but goals from Paul Kariya and Jarome Iginla gave Canada a 2-1 lead after one period. The Americans would pull even just past the 15-minute mark of the second period, but Joe Sakic would restore the Canadian lead before the end of the frame.

With the U.S. unable to beat Brodeur in the third period, goals from Iginla and Sakic in the final minutes wrapped up gold, setting off a celebration in the streets from coast to coast.

Sakic’s seven points were enough to lead the tournament in scoring and earn him MVP and Top Forward honours, as well as a spot on the tournament all-star team.

2002 Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team: After settling for silver in 1998 in the Olympic debut for women’s hockey, Canada was out for gold in Salt Lake City, but entered the Olympics with eight consecutive losses against the United States.

After coming from behind to defeat Finland in the semifinal, it was once again an all-North American battle for gold. Caroline Ouellette opened the scoring less than two minutes in, the only goal of the first period, but the Americans equalized early in the second.

Hayley Wickenheiser restored the Canadian lead minutes later, and Jayna Hefford’s goal with one second to go in the middle frame sent the Canadians to the dressing room with a two-goal lead.

The U.S. cut the lead to one again late in the third, but Canadian netminder Kim St-Pierre shut the door in the dying minutes, clinching Canada’s first Olympic gold.

Wickenheiser – who was named MVP – and Danielle Goyette finished tied for the lead in tournament with 10 points apiece.

Dr. Robert Hindmarch (builder, hockey): In 1964, Dr. Hindmarch was general manager and assistant coach of Canada's Olympic hockey team, made of amateur players enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is long linked to UBC, where he coached the hockey team to 11 of 12 winning seasons in the 1960s and 70s.

Dr. Hindmarch was vice president of the Canadian Olympic Association, is a life member of the COC, and was Chef de Mission for the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Winter Games. He made significant contributions to hockey in Canada, working with many of the country's amateur hockey associations, and writing publications on coaching techniques and instruction.

The 2009 Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, taking place in the setting of the approaching 2010 Olympic Winter Games, will also feature a community outreach program, keynote speaker luncheon, Congress welcome reception, annual general meeting and executive and board meetings. More than 700 guests are expected to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony.

Tickets for the 2009 Hall of Fame Gala Dinner and Induction Ceremony are on sale now and available by calling Nishi Aubin, Events Manager, at 416-324-4136.

The Canadian Olympic Committee is a national, private, not-for-profit organization committed to sport excellence. It is responsible for all aspects of Canada’s involvement in the Olympic movement, including Canada’s participation in the Olympic and Pan American Games and a wide variety of programs that promote the Olympic Movement in Canada through cultural and educational means. For more information, see the COC website: www.olympic.ca.

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Dream Team Canada

Sun Media hockey writers list their picks

We know how totally out of character it is for sports writers to play armchair general manager, but just this once we're your chance to getting a chance to act like know-it-alls.

A dozen Sun Media hockey writers from across the chain were asked to list their picks for the Canadian Olympic team. Of those 12 teams, we compiled a Master Team using a weighted points system (see box below for an explanation of the process).

Yes, we know the tournament is still a year away and lots can, and will, happen between now and then (slumps, injuries, The Apocalypse), but we're doing it anyway - even though it's totally out of character for the media to engage in hype and speculation.

We also know we have too many centres on this team, but that's what happens when a team is compiledf of 12 different lists.

Anyway, here is Team Canada ... if Sun Media was picking it ... and if the tournament started today. It's also your chance to play armchair sports writer and second guess every pick we armchair GMs made.

FORWARDS ...

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh, C ... A lead-pipe cinch. A supreme talent who now has Stanley Cup experience. Voting points: 142 First-place votes: 10 Listed: 12/12

2. Joe Thornton, San Jose, C ... Not exactly proven in the clutch, but you can't ignore this season's numbers. Voting points: 116 First-place votes: 1 Listed: 12/12

3. Jarome Iginla, Calgary, RW ... Can beat you any way you want to play the game. Voting points: 116 First-place votes: 0 Listed: 12/12

4. Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa, C ... Another fine mix of speed, skill and willingness to get his hands dirty. Voting points: 90 First-place votes: 0 Listed: 11/12

5. Rick Nash, Columbus, LW ... Give him world-class linemates and he's as good as anyone in the game. Voting points: 77 First-place votes: 0 Listed: 11/12

6. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim, C ... Big, strong, great hands and has World Junior and Stanley Cup experience. An automatic. Voting points: 71 FPV: 0 Listed: 11/12

7. Jeff Carter, Philadelphia, C ... With set up men like Crosby and Thornton, a one-shot scorer like Carter will have a field day. Voting points: 54 FPV: 0 Listed: 12/12

8. Mike Richards, Philadelphia, C ... A good two-way player, the kind Yzerman covets, who brings some sandpaper to his line. Voting points: 48 FPV: 0 Listed: 11/12

9. Dany Heatley, Ottawa, LW ... Great goal scorer, but the coach killers in Ottawa make us nervous. Voting points: 44 FPV: 1 Listed: 8/12

10. Shane Doan, Phoenix, RW ... A heart-and-soul guy who is cruising along at nearly a point a game. Voting points: 43 FPV: 0 Listed: 10/12

11. Patrick Marleau, San Jose, C ... Great player and all, but, um, isn't this team getting a little deep at centre? VP: 31 FPV: 0 Listed: 7/12

12. Marc Savard, Boston, C ... One of NHL's most talented and underrated players today. VP: 23 FPV: 0 Listed: 4/12

13. Simon Gagne, Pha., LW ... Olympic vet is plus-19 and has 48 points in 50 games. VP: 18 FPV: 0 Listed: 4/12

Late cuts ... Jon Toews, Chicago; Martin St. Louis, Tampa; Eric Staal, Carolina; Ryan Smyth, Colorado; Jason Spezza, Ottawa; Milan Lucic, Boston; Corey Perry, Anaheim; Todd Bertuzzi, Calgary; Brenden Morrow, Dallas.

DEFENCE ...

1. Dion Phaneuf, Calgary ... Great offence, concerns about his own end. VP: 41 FPV: 2 Listed: 11/12

2. Chris Pronger, Anaheim ... Brings poise and size. Has to be healthy and must stay disciplined (at least in the medal round). Voting points: 38 First-place votes: 2 Listed: 10/12

3. Jay Bouwmeester, Florida ... Let's see how good this guy can be when surrounded with elite players. Voting points: 36 First-place votes: 2 Listed: 10/12

4. Dan Boyle, San Jose ... It's no coincidence that San Jose took it to the next level after he arrived. Voting points: 35 First-place votes: 0 Listed: 11/12

5. Shea Weber, Nashville ... Great shot. Good mobility. Solid in his own end. A pretty complete package. Voting points: 34 First-place votes: 2 Listed: 10/12

6. Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim ... A proven winner with enormous experience. And he can still skate with anybody. Voting points: 24 First-place votes: 3 Listed: 5/12

7. Mike Green, Washington ... Point a game in last year's playoffs. Even better this season. Voting points: 19 First-place votes: 1 Listed: 7/12

Late cuts ... Brian Campbell, Chicago; Robyn Regehr, Calgary; Brent Burns, Minnesota; Sheldon Souray, Edmonton.

GOALIES ...

1. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver ... Very limited playoff experience, and he's coming off an injury, but he's still a force. Voting points: 35 First-place votes: 11 Listed: 12/12

2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey ... Best money-goalie in the game today, but he'll have to prove he's recovered from his injury. Voting points: 19 First-place votes: 1 Listed: 10/12

3. Carey Price, Montreal ... Hanging by a thread. VP: 8 FPV: 0 Listed: 5/12

Late cuts ... Steve Mason, Columbus; Cam Ward, Carolina; Marty Turco, Dallas.

---

HOW WE DID IT

Each of our 12 voters were asked to consider 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goalies who, if the team were picked today, would be wearing the Maple Leaf in Vancouver. They were asked to list those players in order of certainty that they should be on the team. For forwards, a firstplace vote was worth 12 points, all the way down to one point for a 12th-place vote. For defenceman, it was six points for a first-place vote, etc., while goalies received three points for a top vote, etc. Results were compiled and the rest is history.

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at least they included Phaneuf, the SI picks are hard to take seriously when they don't even include him in the possibles...

and Price? when was this poll taken?... no way Price is considered ahead of Mason now...

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PIERRE MCGUIRE UNVEILS HIS PICKS FOR CANADA'S OLYMPIC TEAM

The 23-man roster that will represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver has been set, or so it would seem if hockey analyst and former player/coach Pierre McGuire were executive director of Canada's men's hockey team.

With 365 days before the puck drops in the opening game of the tournament, McGuire unveiled the players he believes should make up the men's national team - a list that includes 12 members of the old guard.

In the blue paint, Martin Brodeur was selected to be the starting goaltender for the country's Olympic team. The 36-year-old has missed most of the 2008-09 NHL campaign following elbow surgery in November but with the Montreal native on the mend, McGuire feels his resume is too deep to ignore.

"A staple in the Canadian net since the 2002 Salt Lake City games, Martin Brodeur is Canada's ultimate pressure-treated goaltender, winning three Stanley Cups, Olympic gold and a World Cup during a glittering professional career."

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is number two on the list. The hometown favourite is considered Brodeur's heir apparent as Canada's international goalie, partly on the strength of two gold medal performances at the World Championship.

Montreal's Carey Price is McGuire's third selection to represent the maple leaf. Struggling with his NHL team of late, Price won over the country at the 2007 World Junior Championship when he stared down the U.S. in a semifinal shootout showdown and then beat Russia for gold.

On the blueline, there are a lot of new faces wearing Canada's crest with only two returning defenceman from the 2006 Torino Games - Jay Bouwmeester and Scott Niedermayer.

"Bouwmeester recorded a natural hat trick for Canada in winning consecutive gold's at the 2003 World Championship, 2004 World Championship and 2004 World Cup," McGuire commented, "while Niedermayer is the only player in hockey history to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold Medal, World Championship, World Cup, Memorial Cup and World Junior title."

A member of the taxi squad in Torino, Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle is in the starting lineup for McGuire's 2010 team.

"A coach's dream, Boyle is a one-man transition team with all the right moves to move the puck forward and generate offence from the back end," McGuire said.

Minnesota's Brent Burns and Washington's Mike Green are also called to represent their country by McGuire. Burns had a two-goal performance in Canada's gold medal loss at the 2008 World Championship and earned tournament best defenceman honours while Green has established himself as the world's best goal-scoring defenceman in less than two seasons, and a virtually unstoppable force on the power play.

Adding some grit to the backend, McGuire placed Flames hard-hitter Dion Phaneuf and Nashville Predators grinder Shea Weber on the Canadian squad.

"A high risk-high reward player, Phaneuf blasts slap shots - and opponents - in a style of play that screams: Beware if you dare to cross him," said McGuire.

For Sicamous, B.C., native Weber, he may play in the heart of country music but he's "pure rock and roll on the ice," says McGuire, "combining toughness and talent as well as any NHL defenceman."

Up front, Jarome Iginla and Vincent Lecavalier are two of seven Torino returnees to make McGuire's squad.

A driving force on the Flames offence, Iginla will forever be remembered as the man whose clutch two-goal performance at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games helped deliver Canada's first Olympic gold medal in 50 years.

In Lecavalier, you get a big game player who set up the Stanley Cup winning goal in 2004 and four months later sent Canada to the World Cup final with an overtime goal versus the Czech Republic.

Also returning to the Games to represent their country, according to McGuire, is Phoenix's Shane Doan, Philadelphia's Simon Gagne, Ottawa's Dany Heatley, Columbus' Rick Nash and San Jose's Joe Thornton.

Sidney Crosby was not a part of the squad that finished out of the medals at the Torino Games, but that omission won't be repeated according to McGuire.

The native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, represented Canada only once at the senior level but he represented the country at the 2006 World Championships where he accumulated 16 points in just nine games to become the youngest player ever to lead the tournament in scoring.

Some players who have improved their stock this season in the NHL stood out to McGuire and did enough to make his team.

Philadelphia forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, and Boston's Marc Savard are all having strong NHL campaigns and made enough of an impression on McGuire to round out Team Canada's front line along with Dallas' Brendan Morrow who should be there for Canada come 2010 despite missing most of the season with a torn ACL.

"Carter has followed up a sensational World Junior career for Canada by developing into an elite NHL goal-scorer," said McGuire, "while teammate Richards is every bit the heart and soul player Philadelphia and Team Canada icon Bobby Clarke was, the player Richards is most often and most appropriately compared to."

Getzlaf has been the very epitome of strength down the middle in the NHL after averaging a remarkable 1.5 points per game as a two-time World Jr. medalist.

Morrow has represented Canada five times in senior competition, but forged his place in the Canadian hockey consciousness with an awe-inspiring 2008 playoff performance for Dallas.

Boston's Savard has never represented Canada at a major international event but is a point-per-game NHLer who holds a unique distinction for players of his skill level.

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it's actually the same as the Sun Media team except for two differences: McGuire has Burns instead of Pronger and Morrow instead of Marleau...

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Does anyone have a link to or know the itinerary for the first rounds?

I ask as I bought tickets to some of the games before the qualification stage had finished (i.e. before they knew who was playing who). I'm now curious to see which games I've got.

When I bought tickets to the Turin games, I knew which games I was buying. This time round, I've gone for pot luck because some of the games I saw in '06 weren't what I'd expected (i.e. from very dull where I'd expected a great game (USA vs Russia) to incredible result where I'd expected a walk in the park (Swiss vs Canada)).

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Does anyone have a link to or know the itinerary for the first rounds?

I ask as I bought tickets to some of the games before the qualification stage had finished (i.e. before they knew who was playing who). I'm now curious to see which games I've got.

When I bought tickets to the Turin games, I knew which games I was buying. This time round, I've gone for pot luck because some of the games I saw in '06 weren't what I'd expected (i.e. from very dull where I'd expected a great game (USA vs Russia) to incredible result where I'd expected a walk in the park (Swiss vs Canada)).

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/champio...ympics-men.html

the actual Olympic tournament info starts about half-way down...

you'll also need the 2008 World Rankings to figure out the seedings

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/champio...08-ranking.html

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http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/champio...ympics-men.html

the actual Olympic tournament info starts about half-way down...

you'll also need the 2008 World Rankings to figure out the seedings

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/champio...08-ranking.html

Thank you, Wayne.

I think I found much the same (having asked the question before looking for the answer :rolleyes: )

So I'll get to see Belarus twice - maybe both Kostys? - Sweden, Germany (woo hoo), Switzerland, USA and a few others for good measure. But no Canada. Poo.

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So I'll get to see Belarus twice - maybe both Kostys? - Sweden, Germany (woo hoo), Switzerland, USA and a few others for good measure. But no Canada. Poo.
of course, along with Grabovski :D

the Belarus mangement team is budgeting for tape to divide up the rooms: "now, Sergei this is your side of the room, and Mikhail this is your side... stay on your own side!" :lol:

gyi0051752099.h2.jpg

"I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you"

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Does anyone have a link to or know the itinerary for the first rounds?

I ask as I bought tickets to some of the games before the qualification stage had finished (i.e. before they knew who was playing who). I'm now curious to see which games I've got.

When I bought tickets to the Turin games, I knew which games I was buying. This time round, I've gone for pot luck because some of the games I saw in '06 weren't what I'd expected (i.e. from very dull where I'd expected a great game (USA vs Russia) to incredible result where I'd expected a walk in the park (Swiss vs Canada)).

the IIHF site has a new article with links to the official schedules as they stand now...

http://www.iihf.com/home-of-hockey/news/ne...ficial/955.html

btw, GM Place is called "Canada Hockey Place (CHP)" for the Olympics... is GM an official Olympic 'partner/sponsor'?...

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am i the only one who thinks neidermeyer is too old for 2010? :blink: good grief. he wouldn't be on my team. maybe the coaching staff but not on the ice. ;) i'm also having trouble digesting brodeur as a lock for first string goalie but i guess we'll see what he's got starting tonight or tomorrow.

nice to see kovalev makes the russian team according to nhl.com. not sure it'll happen but it would make me proud.

the russian team will be scary good. :D

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weird, the links aren't clickable in my original post... nor when it is quoted... hopefully they should work here...

way too much to cut-and-paste...

here are NHL.com's ideas for the Olympic team rosters:

Group A

Canada http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409686

USA http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410112

Switzerland http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410221

Norway http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410382

Group B

Russia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409677

Czech Republic http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410270

Slovakia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410241

Latvia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409827

Group C

Sweden http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409165

Finland http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409825

Belarus http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410037

Germany http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410554

am i the only one who thinks neidermeyer is too old for 2010? :blink: good grief. he wouldn't be on my team. maybe the coaching staff but not on the ice. ;) i'm also having trouble digesting brodeur as a lock for first string goalie but i guess we'll see what he's got starting tonight or tomorrow.

nice to see kovalev makes the russian team according to nhl.com. not sure it'll happen but it would make me proud.

the russian team will be scary good. :D

well, Niedermayer's numbers are still good and if Lidstrom isn't too old for the Swedes... and I'm not sure Brodeur will be the starter...

the Russian offense looks good, but how is their defensive play? and I like the Canadian defensive corp from top-to-bottom better than any of the other teams so that should be a Canadian strength...

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weird, the links aren't clickable in my original post... nor when it is quoted... hopefully they should work here...

way too much to cut-and-paste...

here are NHL.com's ideas for the Olympic team rosters:

Group A

Canada http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409686

USA http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410112

Switzerland http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410221

Norway http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410382

Group B

Russia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409677

Czech Republic http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410270

Slovakia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410241

Latvia http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409827

Group C

Sweden http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409165

Finland http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=409825

Belarus http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410037

Germany http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=410554

well, Niedermayer's numbers are still good and if Lidstrom isn't too old for the Swedes... and I'm not sure Brodeur will be the starter...

the Russian offense looks good, but how is their defensive play? and I like the Canadian defensive corp from top-to-bottom better than any of the other teams so that should be a Canadian strength...

i guess, since neidermeyer's semi-retirement fiasco i haven't been much of a fan but i'll hold off my judgement until i see him play next season. our d will be stacked with or without him.

and if brodeur is still playing, and well, he would be an asset.

russians are weak on the backend (according to nhl.com) but not terribly. markov and gonchar make a solid first pairing but it dips after that. volchenkov is a bonus and there's talk of danny markov - who played well during the worlds last year. i'm not sure where emelin is on their depth chart but he was an asset at the worlds two years ago. :)

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russians are weak on the backend (according to nhl.com) but not terribly. markov and gonchar make a solid first pairing but it dips after that. volchenkov is a bonus and there's talk of danny markov - who played well during the worlds last year. i'm not sure where emelin is on their depth chart but he was an asset at the worlds two years ago. :)
I think the Russian defense's strength is once again offense, e.g. A. Markov and Gonchar, it's how they defend that might be their problem... it'll be interesting to see how the KHL does in the next year and if they Russians deliberately favour those players over the Russian NHLers...
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I think the Russian defense's strength is once again offense, e.g. A. Markov and Gonchar, it's how they defend that might be their problem... it'll be interesting to see how the KHL does in the next year and if they Russians deliberately favour those players over the Russian NHLers...

you're probably right. i'm pretty sure the last russian squad was mostly made up of ak bars kazan (they're starting five, at least, if not their goaltender) because they had established chemistry. i imagine we'll see something similar in 2010.

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