Who invited Bertuzzi?

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Good to see Hockey Canada went out on a limb. Too bad it was the wrong branch.

Instead of taking a chance on a youngster such as Jason Spezza or Sidney Crosby or even Dion Phaneuf, the powers that be opted to go a different route with their surprise choice for the nation's Olympic team by adding Todd Bertuzzi.

And Kris Draper.

And Adam Foote.

For good reason, Team Canada will be favoured to win a second straight Olympic gold in Turin, Italy, in February.

The squad has great goaltending, depth, experience, skill and savvy. In short, it's a coach's dream come true.

But the crew led by Wayne Gretzky, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini could have done better.

This may be altruistic thinking but the Olympic ideal is about more than just gold medals. It's about what sports are supposed to stand for -- and sportsmanship is among those ideals .

Canadian hockey should be secure enough in its status around the world to be able to say no to Bertuzzi for this reason.

The Vancouver forward should be on the sidelines for this tournament for his attack on Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore.

But for some reason, the hockey world has yet to make the punishment fit the crime, with his softened suspension ending just in time to attend the Olympic summer camp and new NHL season.

The list of wrong choices doesn't end there.

Sure, Draper deserves kudos for his willingness to step forward when Canada has come calling.

Through his career, he's embodied plenty of what separates Canada from the rest of the world when the puck is dropped, playing the game with passion, determination, speed and grit.

However, selections for this team were supposed to be based on performance this season, too, and the Detroit Red Wings forward hasn't been up to snuff.

The Red Wings may sit atop the Western Conference standings but Draper has contributed only one goal -- he had 24 in 2003-04 -- and is a team-worst minus-6.

We know Draper won't be counted on to provide a ton of offence in Italy but being on the wrong side of the plus-minus ledger has to call into question his defensive game, too.

Crosby or Spezza may be more offensively inclined but their defensive abilities can't be that far off base. Besides, the best defence has always been great offence.

Foote's inclusion is even more questionable. Granted, no defenceman would look good on the Columbus Blue Jackets with the way things have gone this season but Foote's game has been well below his standard set while in Colorado.

Team Canada's defence corps has plenty of experience with the likes of Chris Pronger, Rob Blake, Ed Jovanovski and Scott Niedermayer -- all holdovers from the 2002 gold-medal winning side.

And Robyn Regehr is the NHLer in waiting capable of being that top-flight rock-solid rearguard -- with better foot speed, to boot.

Which should allow the decision makers to opt for another direction, such as Bryan McCabe or Chris Phillips, or Dan Boyle.

Canada is still the best bet to win gold in Turin but going with old favourites isn't always the best direction to head.


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