SLAM!Sports
December 18, 2005
Get ready for second guessing
Special to Sun Media
By Martin Brodeur (as told to Pierre Durocher)


(CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)

On Wednesday we will learn the identities of the 23 players who will represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in Turin and I have to admit that Wayne Gretzky and his assistants have to make some very difficult decisions...

One thing is certain - no matter who gets chosen, there will be second guessing. Critics will point to the statistics and wonder why one player got the nod over an another. Itís inevitable.

What about Rick Nash, whoís been injured this season? You know what he brings to a team when heís healthy.

It will be a tough call on the three goalies. Marty Turco and Curtis Joseph are both playing well.

Turco participated in the last world championship as an auxiliary goalie and got his foot in the door. Gretzky has had the opportunity to coach Joseph and knows his capabilities well.

Canada is the envy of the hockey world because of its depth. We have a surplus of good players. For Gretzky, selecting a team becomes a real puzzle to find the right combination of 23 players.

I think that itís important to explain that in order to succeed in a tournament of this scale, itís necessary to form the best possible team. You canít limit yourself to the players who happen to have the best statistics at the time of the selection.

Naturally there are several young Canadian players who have been standouts at this point in the NHL season. But if we want to win the gold medal, itís smart to go with experience, the players who have been there.

The pressure at this level is extraordinary, every game is big. The stars who have worn the maple leaf during the last Olympics, the World Cup or the world championship know what awaits them.

I have nothing against the good, young rising stars who are making a mark for themselves this season, including Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza and Eric Staal. I doubt, however, that they will be all there in Turin.

We won at Salt Lake City's Olympic Games as well as the World Cup with a solid group of players and I expect that a good part of that team will remain intact.

It is important that we have a balanced squad, youth blending with experience, and Iím relying on Gretzky's judgment and of all those working with him.

If I can deliver a message to the players who wonít be chosen, it would be not to lose hope because injuries can result in opportunities.

The brain trust of Team Canada has been forced to name its team before Christmas - which is too early for my liking - putting the team in a bizarre situation because a lot can happen between now and February 12.

The chances that selected players will suffer injuries in the next weeks are very high. Look no further than the case of Simon Gagnť, who is currently dealing with a groin injury.


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