Extras Or No Extras?
Patrick Kane isn't the only would-be Olympian with taxi issues.
All the competing teams, as it turns out, are still uncertain whether they will be permitted to carry a three-man taxi squad for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next year. Those extra players were allowed in Turin in 2006 but were supposed to have been eliminated for 2010.
Not so fast, says Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson. Now, he said yesterday, some of the European countries are suggesting they'd like to have that comfy cushion for the hockey competition in Vancouver, and so the rules may yet change again.
Good idea or bad idea?
In Turin, Canada had Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Dan Boyle along for the ride as taxi squad players, but none of the three were used. With 13 forwards and seven defencemen on a 22-man roster - two more than the NHL uses on a nightly basis - plus a No. 3 goalie who doesn't dress, there seems to be less need to have that kind of player insurance against insurance.
All the countries have to have their rosters submitted by Dec. 31st, but if a player is injured between Dec. 31 and the beginning of the tournament - happened to Ed Jovanovski last time - he can be replaced.
It's hard on coaches to have taxi squad players around who are either grousing that they deserve to play or looking at the coaches with hopeful eyes every time their name is called. You can't run an effective practice, either, with 26 players, so the taxi squadders are really left on the outs.
Finally, for a country like Canada, it allows coaches to hedge their bets rather than make the tough decisions before the tournament starts.
So better off without the taxi squads. But better off this was already decided with less than six months to go.