February 5, 2011
How our golden boys are doing a year later
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
Hard as it might seem to believe, next Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the magnificent opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics.
For some members of Canada’s gold-medal winning men’s hockey team, it feels like just a couple of months ago.
“It really does,” Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal said. “It was such a great experience but time has gone by so fast.”
Faster for some than others.
In the almost 12 months that have transpired since Sidney Crosby brought this nation to its feet with his Golden Goal, it has been a roller coaster ride for many Team Canada players.
For Chicago Blackhawk players Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews, a gold medal was followed up by a Stanley Cup title just 15 weeks later.
On the other hand, Crosby, Ryan Getlaf and Chris Pronger have spent as much time battling injuries as they have opponents.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a look at how members of Team Canada have fared since their triumph in B.C. The accompanying stats are the numbers each player has accrued in the NHL since the Olympics.
SIDNEY CROSBY (41-56-97)
Appeared fatigued during the 2010 post-season as the Pens were knocked out by the Habs in the second round ... Was en route to his best statistical season until concussion problems sidelined him last month.
ERIC STAAL (34-38-72)
One of hottest players in the league since Vancouver ... Confidence received significant boost when he was picked for Team Canada despite missing a chunk of the ’09-10 season due to injury.
COREY PERRY (30-40-70)
Has turned into a real team leader ... Has won a Memorial Cup, world junior gold, Stanley Cup and Olympic gold.
DANY HEATLEY (28-36-64)
Has enjoyed the best post-Olympic success, at least from a stats point of view, of the Sharks top line, which also includes Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
JONATHAN TOEWS (25-39-64)
Most successful of all Team Canada members in the past 12 months ... Captured Olympic gold; captained his Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup; and won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP.
MIKE RICHARDS (24-40-64)
Captained his Flyers to the Stanley Cup final, where they lost to Toews’ Blackhawks ... Flyers appear to be one of the favourites to come out of the east and reach the final again.
JOE THORNTON (20-43-63)
By helping Canada win gold, he finally shut up all the critics who claimed he had not won anything ... Named Sharks captain after the retirement of veteran Rob Blake last summer.
JAROME IGINLA (27-32-59)
The man who set up Crosby’s gold-medal winning goal was actually involved in trade rumours when his Flames got off to a horrific start in 10-11 ... But new GM Jay Feaster insists Iginla will not be dealt.
PATRICE BERGERON (26-33-59)
Has blossomed since his Olympic experience ... Has become Boston’s offensive catalyst, regaining the form he had prior to the concussion that almost ended his career.
PATRICK MARLEAU (25-32-57)
Has seemed much more comfortable in his role after the Sharks removed the “C” from his jersey prior to the 2009-10 season.
RICK NASH (28-26-54)
Continues to put up respectable numbers despite having little to work with around him ... When your top offensive help is Antoine Vermette and R.J. Umberger, well, it’s pretty much a one-man show.
BRENDAN MORROW (28-20-48)
Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk claims Morrow has been the key to his team’s surprising success this season.
DAN BOYLE (9-38-48)
Has been asked to take even more of a role on and off the ice for the Sharks after the retirement of Rob Blake last summer.
DUNCAN KEITH (6-40-46)
Buoyed by his outstanding play at the Olympics, he went on to win both a Stanley Cup and the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman.
RYAN GETZLAF (25-30-45)
Has been plagued by injuries since Vancouver ... Was out in the latter stages of the 2009-10 season, then was smacked in the face by a puck in December and has been out with a sinus fracture.
SHEA WEBER (14-26-40)
Has been asked to take a more defensive role with the Preds after Dan Hamhuis left during the off-season.
DREW DOUGHTY (10-30-40)
Came off an outstanding Olympics to find himself a finalist for the Norris ... Numbers are down this season with opponents paying more attention to him.
BRENT SEABROOK (4-31-35)
He and Weber should continue to provide the sandpaper on the Team Canada blue line for years to come.
CHRIS PRONGER (4-17-21)
Missed the final six weeks of the ’09-10 regular season, then suffered a cracked bone in his foot that knocked him out for another month-and-a-half earlier this season.
SCOTT NIEDERMAYER (4-7-11)
Retired at the end of the ’09-10 season after winning his second Olympic gold medal.
MARC ANDRE FLEURY (33-16-3, 2.34)
Struggled in a second-round playoff loss to the Habs ... Was brutal at the start of 10-11 but has rebounded nicely.
ROBERTO LUONGO (32-13-8, 2.36)
Struggled during yet another post-season exit at the hands of the rival Hawks ... Has been outstanding this season, however, making the Canucks legitimate Cup favourites.
MARTIN BRODEUR (23-24-2, 2.64)
He and the Devils have been one of the league’s biggest disappointment.
A look to 2014
One of the most interesting haggling points in coming negotiations between the league and the players union will revolve around the potential participation of NHLers at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
With the one-year anniversary of their gold-medal triumph in Vancouver quickly approaching, the man who led Canada to gold, Steve Yzerman, feels there is a need to be in Russia in three years.
“I know about the time difference and what it costs the league to shut down for three weeks,” Yzerman said. “But Vancouver produced some of the best hockey ever played.
“The players want to be there and the fans want us to be there.”
If NHLers are included, what might the Team Canada roster look like in 2014?
Sidney Crosby (Penguins)
Steven Stamkos (Lightning)
Mike Richards (Flyers)
Jeff Carter (Flyers)
Claude Giroux (Flyers)
Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks)
Matt Duchene (Avalanche)
Taylor Hall (Oilers)
Corey Perry (Ducks)
Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks)
Rick Nash (Blue Jackets)
Eric Staal (Hurricanes)
Jordan Staal (Penguins)
Kris Letang (Penguins)
Shea Weber (Predators)
Drew Doughty (Kings)
Brent Seabrook (Blackhawks)
Duncan Keith (Blackhawks)
Marc Staal (Rangers)
Tyler Myers (Sabres)
Cam Ward (Hurricanes)
Marc Andre Fleury (Penguins)
Carey Price (Canadiens)
Over to you, Ray Shero.
With Evgeni Malkin having suffered two torn knee ligaments Friday night and Sidney Crosby still not back from his concussion, the Pittsburgh Penguins general manager will have to be at his creative best when the trade deadline comes around later this month.
Two years ago, he brought in Chris Kunitz. Last season, it was Alexei Ponikarovsky.
What can Shero do for an encore?
It will be tough. With Malkin apparently out of the mix, he’ll have to find some kind of offensive compliments to Sid The Kid if the Pens hope to make a deep post-season run.
Good luck with that.
These are lively times in the world of the NHL’s broadcasting rites.
Comcast’s recent takeover of NBC certainly have made thing interesting. Comcast also owns Versus, the NHL’s other over-the-air carrier along with NBC.
Given reports that Versus just laid off a number of its NHL staff, the situation gets more intriguing by the day.
Here’s some more fuel to the fire: There are those in the hockey industry who believe the league has fought hard to keep moribund sun belt franchises like Phoenix from folding or relocating because it feels it needs those markets for a strong U.S. television deal, such as it is.
Of course it does. Those ratings in Phoenix will skyrocket when the Coyotes are featured on the Game of the Week.
Ok. Maybe not.
— Mike Zeisberger