Legace was robbed

, Last Updated: 1:31 PM ET

It's hard to believe a list of 81 players for a 23-man team could leave anybody out, but sadly that's the case with the preliminary roster for the Canadian Olympic men's hockey squad.

"It was a question of eliminating as much controversy as we can," said Olympic executive director Wayne Gretzky, upon the release of the list. "When we get down to the final 23 players there are going to be a lot of players that will be second guessed on."

Hey Wayne, forget the final 23, the second guessing has already begun.

At first glance the most glaring omission is that of Red Wings' netminder Manny Legace. How the Toronto native, who leads the league with six wins and has compiled a 1.98 goals against average and a .918 save percentage, did not make the top 81 is ridiculous.

The 32-year-old is proving everybody wrong that said he couldn't cut it as a starter. In 153 NHL games he is now 83-36-18, with a 2.21 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

We don't take issue with any of the nine goaltenders who made the list (Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Jose Theodore, Marty Turco, Andrew Raycroft, Dan Cloutier, Curtis Joseph and Hurricanes rookie Cam Ward), but Legace should definitely be there.

Maybe his comments against NHLers playing overseas during the lockout has made him somewhat of a pariah and Gretzky didn't want to deal with any possible disruptions to team chemistry.

To not even give Legace a chance to just sit in the stands, like Belfour did in Salt lake in 2002, is wrong. And unlike Theodore, Luongo, Turco, Raycroft, Cloutier and Ward, Legace has Olympic experience, having backstopped Canada to a silver in Lillehammer in 1994.

While Legace is clearly the worst omission, there are others. Among the goalie ranks there could be arguments made for the inclusion of the Wild tandem of Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez, who together lead the NHL with a 1.85 GAA and a .936 SV%. Also missing is rookie Jason LaBarbera and veteran Sean Burke, who won silver in Albertville in 1992.

Although five rookies made the list (Ward, Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, Michael Richards and Dion Phaneuf), fellow Canadian junior teammates Kyle Wellwood, Jay McClement, Brent Seabrook and Corey Perry weren't among them. Seabrook leads all rookie rearguards in scoring with five points in his first seven games.

Second-year players like Joffrey Lupul, Patrice Bergeron and Eric Staal were included, but third-year players like Steve Eminger, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Jonathan Cheechoo and Mike Cammalleri weren't.

Eminger should have been there over Phaneuf, as the Capitals defenceman has registered six points in eight games and is a plus-5 on a Washington team that has surrendered an NHL-high 36 goals against. Cheechoo should definitely have made it over the much-hyped, but unproven Carter.

Salt Lake defencemen Rob Blake, Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Ed Jovanovski, Adam Foote and Eric Brewer are all returning. Blueliners from last year's World Cup and last spring's world championship - Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr, Wade Redden, Dan Boyle, Sheldon Souray and Scott Hannan - also made the list.

Bryan McCabe, who leads all NHL defencemen in scoring so far, and Adrian Aucoin, Chris Phillips and Brad Stuart were all no-brainers. But questionable veterans Eric Desjardins, Kyle McLaren, Steve Staios and Derek Morris were included over Phillipe Boucher, Dan McGillis, Patrice Brisebois, Brendan Witt, Jason Smith, Rhett Warrener, Richard Matvichuk, Daryl Sydor, Mike Rathje, Greg de Vries and Cory Sarich. To say nothing of up-and-coming defencemen Mike Van Ryn, Brent Sopel, Willie Mitchell, Nick Schultz and Dan Hamhuis.

No doubt people will also make mention of the absence of role players such as Trevor Linden, Anson Carter, Matt Cooke, Darcy Tucker, Chris Neil, Alyn McCauley and Ian Laperriere, while guys like Wes Walz, Kirk Maltby, John Madden, Scott Walker, Rob Niedermayer and Joe Nieuwendyk are in.

And while forwards off to hot starts, like Jeff O'Neill, Jason Allison, Jason Arnott, Daniel Briere, Marc Chouinard, Shawn Horcoff, Michael Ryder, Marc Savard and Steve Sullivan were added, others with equally strong starts like Todd White, Jason Williams, Derek Armstrong, Mike Ribeiro, Cory Stillman and J.P. Dumont were kept off.

Back to Legace again - why wasn't he credited for his hot start when so many others were?

This should all fuel intense debate on fan forums until the final roster is named on December 22. Then the real grousing will begin.

However since nearly three quarters of the players on the list will be rejected, why wouldn't Gretzky and crew include more players so that there wouldn't be the chance of anyone feeling rejected?

If you have 81, then why not 100? Heck, why not 200? What's the difference, if you're not going to seriously consider all the guys anyway?

Injuries notwithstanding, there should only be about four or five spots to compete for.

Blake, Pronger, Niedermayer, Foote and Redden are locks on defence. At forward, Mario Lemieux, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Brad Richards, Joe Sakic, Vinny Lecavalier, Simon Gagne, Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Smyth, Martin St. Louis, Dany Heatley and Rick Nash have got to be considered locks. Add in Brodeur and Luongo and that leaves just four open spots.

After Dec. 22, Team Canada can only add players if someone gets hurt and only from the preliminary list of 81. In Salt Lake, Canada went with three goalies, seven defencemen and 13 forwards and it's expected they'll do the same in Turin.

Technically speaking Canada has until Monday to officially submit their preliminary list, but the chances of a player being added is highly unlikely.

"I think it would be extremely doubtful," admitted Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada's Director of Communications. "If we forgot Joe Sakic then I guess we would have to, but I'd be shocked if we added anyone to that list."

That means the only way Legace is getting to Turin, is if he buys his own ticket.

NOTE:If you have a player who you believe should be included on Team Canada's preliminary roster, e-mail it to The Puckmaster at puckmaster@canoemail.com. Some of the best e-mails will be displayed in a future Puckmaster column.

PRELIMINARY OLYMPIC ROSTER
Forwards
Jason Allison, Tor
Jason Arnott, Dal
Patrice Bergeron, Bos
Todd Bertuzzi, Van
Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Min
Daniele Briere, Buf
*Jeff Carter, Phi
Marc Chouinard, Min
*Sidney Crosby, Pit
Shane Doan, Pho
Kris Draper, Det
Simon Gagne, Phi
Dany Heatley, Ott
Shawn Horcoff, Edm
Jarome Iginla, Cal
Paul Kariya, Nas
Vinny Lecavalier, TB
Mario Lemieux, Pit
Eric Lindros, Tor
Joffrey Lupul, Ana
John Madden, NJ
Kirk Maltby, Det
Patrick Marleau, SJ
Brendan Morrison, Van
Brendan Morrow, Dal
Glen Murray, Bos
Rick Nash, CBJ
Rob Niedermayer, Ana
Joe Nieuwendyk, Fla
Jeff O'Neill, Tor
Michael Peca, Edm
Keith Primeau, Phi
Mark Recchi, Pit
Brad Richards, TB
Michael Ryder, Mtl
Joe Sakic, Col
Marc Savard, Atl
Brendan Shanahan, Det
Ryan Smyth, Edm
Jason Spezza, Ott
Eric Staal, Car
Martin St. Louis, TB
Steve Sullivan, Nas
Alex Tanguay, Col
Joe Thornton, Bos
Scott Walker, Nas
Wes Walz, Min
Steve Yzerman, Det

Defence
Adrian Aucoin, Chi
Rob Blake, Col
Jay Bouwmeester, Fla
Dan Boyle, TB
Nick Boynton, Bos
Eric Brewer, StL
Eric Desjadins, Phi
Adam Foote, CBJ
Scott Hannan, SJ
Barret Jackman, StL
Ed Jovanovski, Van
Bryan McCabe, Tor
Kyle McLaren, SJ
Derek Morris, Pho
Scott Niedermayer, Ana
*Dion Phaneuf, Cal
Chris Phillips, Ott
Chris Pronger, Edm
Wade Redden, Ott
Robyn Regehr, Cal
Sheldon Souray, Mtl
Steve Staio, Edm
Brad Stuart, SJ

Goaltenders
Ed Befour, Tor
Martin Brodeur, NJ
Dan Cloutier, Van
Curtis Joseph, Pho
Roberto Luongo, Fla
Andrew Raycroft, Bos
Jose Theodore, Mtl
Marty Turco, Dal
*Cam Ward, Car

-players in bold played on 2002 Olympic team
* indicates NHL rookies

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