Is Canada slipping in net?
Are all of the great goalies gone?
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
|Goalies Martin Brodeur (L-R), Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury. REUTERS/Shaun Best
If John Tavares and Marc-Andre Fleury had their way, the NHL definitely would participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Such a decision, of course, would give both the opportunity to tug on that red and white Team Canada jersey each so highly covets.
In the end, the Sochi issue will definitely be a significant topic between players and owners during the impending collective bargaining negotiations. The current CBA, of course, runs out at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season.
Labour issues notwithstanding, there is a more pressing issue facing Hockey Canada down the road.
If NHLers indeed participate in 2014, who would make up Canada’s goaltending contingent? Gone are the days when names such as Roy, Belfour, Brodeur and Joseph made goaltending a definite strength for Canada.
At first blush, Fleury, Montreal’s Carey Price and Carolina’s Cam Ward would seem to be the obvious choices.
At one time, many would have considered Price to be the No. 1 guy, but his struggles early this season show how quickly a goalie can go cold.
Will the Leafs’ James Reimer or Chicago’s Corey Crawford be ready to take on such a global stage by then? Will backup Jonathan Bernier of Los Angeles be a starter two years from now?
Look how fast things can change. Just 20 months after being Canada’s starter at the Vancouver Games, a struggling Roberto Luongo is being jeered by the home fans in B.C.
Part of the issue is that Canadians no longer dominate the position, a fact Fleury acknowledges.
“I think Canada still produces good goalies, but it’s become a global thing,” said Fleury, Canada’s No. 3 goalie in Vancouver behind Luongo and Brodeur.
“I’d love to be part of (the Olympics) again,” he added.
Up front is where the Canadians have the most promise. Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene and Taylor Hall are all under 25, making up an impressive gaggle of young skaters.
“When you look at guys like that, Canada would have a very talented team,” Tavares said.
That is, if the NHLers go, of course.