When you glance at the stats, you might wonder why Dan Cleary’s 40 points are going to Hockey Canada’s Olympic men’s orientation camp over Marc Savard’s 90.
Or Milan Lucic’s 42 over Mike Cammalleri’s 82. Or Patrick Sharp’s 44 over Jason Spezza’s 73.
The answer? Hockey Canada’s staff, which unveiled its 46-man roster for the Aug. 24-27 camp in Calgary yesterday, doesn’t want an all-star team with four lines of scorers.
“When we put this list together, we wanted to bring in different types of players,” said Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman. “Some guys who aren’t leading their teams in scoring, but are very good players in a different role (were invited). In doing that, we had to remove (some high-scoring players).”
That said, there is no absence of skill, led by Cole Harbour native and three-time 100-point man Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Jarome Iginla, Dany Heatley and Ryan Getzlaf.
But players such as Cleary, Lucic, Sharp and Brenden Morrow bring a grinding element that is well suited for a fourth line at the international level. Yzerman covets that.
“It’s important for us to have some big, strong guys who can wear down the opposition,” Yzerman said.
In addition to 25 forwards, Yzerman invited 16 defencemen and five goaltenders. Veterans Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger headline the defensive invites, while Martin Brodeur and Robert Luongo are the big names in goal.
Yzerman listed hockey sense, skating ability, competitiveness and versatility as the assets he’s looking for. He said most importantly he wants a roster of “responsible players.”
“If you lose a game, you’re out,” he said. “You can’t afford to have guys who are high-risk and make a lot of mistakes.”
Canada’s roster will ultimately be made up of 23 players.
Fleury in the goalie mix
There aren’t many who will argue against Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo ultimately occupying two of Canada’s three goalie spots at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
But the debate is wide-open when it comes to the third-stringer, and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Carolina’s Cam Ward, and Columbus’s Steve Mason are the guys who have earned invites to August’s orientation camp in Calgary.
Fleury, a former Cape Breton Screaming Eagles star who was solid in backstopping the Penguins to the Stanley Cup last month, has played his way into contention.
“After watching him in the playoffs, he’s taken his goaltending to another level,” said Canadian general manager Steve Yzerman. “He was outstanding against the Red Wings in the (Stanley Cup) final and he had a big impact.”
The 24-year-old former No. 1 draft pick already has five seasons under his belt and has 30 playoff wins the past two years, more than any other goaltender in the NHL.