Canada's young guns holstered for now

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The Pittsburgh Penguins began the year hoping their two premier players would make Team Canada.

But 40-year-old Mario Lemieux took himself out of the mix earlier this month and despite a campaign to get Sidney Crosby on the squad, the teenage superstar was not included in yesterday's announcement in Vancouver.

"There were a lot of great players and Sidney was in a whole group of young players who will represent the country for many years to come," Team Canada assistant executive director Kevin Lowe said.

Crosby was second among National Hockey League rookies before last night and 29th overall with 33 points.

"I understand and recognize that it's not an easy decision for the Canadian selection committee," Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent, told the Canadian Press. "Regardless of its decisions, it was going to create some kind of controversy with the talent pool.

THRIVES UNDER PRESSURE

"However, as I've said before, in my opinion Sidney thrives under pressure and could play with anyone in the world and make a difference."

Young Eric Staal made a determined bid to make the team right to the end, with a two-goal night for the Carolina Hurricanes the night before yesterday's final selection committee conference call. He led all NHL players with 24 goals.

He's on the three-man reserve squad and got a consolation call from Wayne Gretzky.

"I'm thrilled to be part of the process," Staal said.

"I have a foot in the door. Sure, I wanted to be part of the main squad but, at the same time, there's so many great players in Canada so to get named is still a great feeling."

Players such as Crosby, Staal and goalie Roberto Luongo are expected to be the backbone of the Canadian team at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.


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