SUN Hockey Pool

Snubbed players stay classy

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 4:37 PM ET

None of the Canadians left off Steve Yzerman's Olympic roster came close to dropping the F-bomb (at least not publicly) like Mikael Samuelsson did when he was passed over by Swedish Olympic officials.

"They can go @#$% themselves," said the Vancouver Canucks forward, in stark moment of frankness.

But that doesn't mean the cut didn't go deep.

Team Canada veterans Ryan "Captain Canada" Smyth and Shane Doan were left on the outside looking in after Yzerman went for a profoundly younger lineup than the veteran-laden roster that went to Italy four years ago.

"I was very disappointed, very, very disappointed," said Doan, a member of Team Canada in 2006 in Italy. "But at the same time, you cheer for Canada and hope they get gold."

"I'll be their biggest cheerleader," said Smyth.

Both those guys are classy acts.

They also say there's no point allowing their deep disappointment to bleed into their reactions: the door is not fully closed until Feb. 15 when the final rosters must be submitted.

Yzerman, Team Canada's executive director, insisted a trend towards a younger roster and away from guys like Smyth and Doan - both 33 - wasn't a conscious decision; it's that the best players, in his opinion, are younger this time around.

More than half (12 of 23) of Team Canada's roster is 25 years old or younger.

Only five players are older than 30.

LEMME SAY THIS ABOUT THE WINTER CLASSIC: I don't now if there was a better moment at the Winter Classic than Bobby Orr skating out onto the ice in front of the crowd at Fenway Park...What, all of a sudden Rene Rancourt wasn't good enough to sing the national anthem before a Bruins game in Beantown? Sleepy James Taylor? Hey, NHL, 1970 called. Even it thought it was a strange choice...The view from the blimp during play? Stick to golf.

REVELATIONS: My early pick for coach of the year is Colorado rookie Joe Sacco, who made D John-Michael Liles a healthy scratch Wednesday in Ottawa. "Easy decisions are to scratch fourth-liners and your fifth and sixth defensemen. At the end of the day, you can't take the easy way out," said Sacco. Decisions like that make players notice and make them accountable...Not much has been said about parting of the ways between the Vancouver Canucks and D Mathieu Schneider publicly, but it has been nasty. He moped, apparently, about being a healthy scratch. Not even a long-term injury to D Kevin Bieksa will bring him back in the fold. If that's it for Schneider, it's not a good way to go out...Things are getting a little tense in Detroit. G Chris Osgood is not happy about playing just six of the last 25 games. Coach Mike Babcock said Osgood has to work hard and make the most of his next opportunity. "I know how to do that," said Osgood. "I don't think I have to prove that. I know how to play, I just have to play - that's all there is to it. You have to get into some games and get into a groove and then I can play like I can. But if you don't play, it's impossible to get to that point. I'm a goalie, OK? and I've been playing for 20-some years since junior. What I say (about goaltending) is closer to the facts than what he (Babcock) would say."

JUST WONDERING: The Rock as a former hockey player turned tooth fairy in a movie? Hockey players are about losing teeth, not finding them...Does it bother you as much as it does me to hear any Canadian refer to it as "ice" hockey? Your citizenship should be revoked if you refer to it as such...Another peeve: when anybody says about two teams: "they don't like each other," like somebody did during the Winter Classic. What teams do?

PARTING SHOT: "He just plays stupid sometimes." Kings D Sean O'Donnell on Flames D Dion Phaneuf after he slammed the head of Kings star Anze Kopitar into the glass Wednesday.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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