Digging for gold

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET

The Great Debate is raging from coast-to-coast in Canada.

Who will Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky choose to represent the country in the Turin Olympics?

Rob Blake and Joe Sakic were sitting at the back of the Colorado Avalanche bus the other day trying to come with 23 names for Team Canada.

"It has made for some interesting conversation," said Blake. "We got into this discussion about whether (Wayne) Gretzky should be taking some younger guys to get them ready for 2010 (in Vancouver).

"Then we sort of thought that won't be a factor because those young guys will get a chance to play in the World Cup.

"We certainly have enjoyed talking about it because guessing who is going to be on the team is the fun part until it's named."

These sorts of discussions are taking place everywhere in the hockey world. Right now, some guy in Stockholm is trying to decide whether it should be Henrik Lundqvist or Tommy Salo in net for Sweden.

In Trencin, Slovakia, they're trying to come up with the best partner for defenceman Zdeno Chara.

But nowhere else it is being talked about with as much passion as it is in Canada as we all anxiously await Wednesday's roster announcement in Vancouver.

"We could have two or three teams in Canada and I guess that's a good thing," said Steve Tambellini, assistant GM of the Vancouver Canucks and director of player personnel for Team Canada.

This Team Canada will represent a changing of the guard.

Gone are veterans Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman, who both played key roles when the country won gold in Salt Lake City in 2002.

That opens the door to young guys like Carolina's Eric Staal, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Ottawa's Jason Spezza, who all have been nothing short of great this season.

"I'm sure Yzerman and Lemieux took a look around and realized that it was time for them to take a back seat," said Blake.

"The good thing I see is that there are so many good, young players that are 25 and under. It's great for our game. The fact that guys like Staal, Spezza and Crosby are there and ready to make that step is good news for the country."

The arguments over who will be named to the team are raging. There may be plenty more discussion about who's left off the team.

"That will only happen if we don't win a gold medal," said Blake. "That's what happened in Salt Lake City. Everybody was upset at first and then it just went away. There's no reason it won't be the same in Italy. If we win gold, there won't be any arguments. Everybody will just be happy we won."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos