Let the Analysis Begin
At first, the name Andy McDonald jumps out at you on the list of players who will take the ice tonight in Calgary at Team Canada's orientation camp.
What's he doing there?
Not that the pride of Strathroy, Ont. is any slouch, exactly. In fact, he's a very good NHL player.
|Andy McDonald has wheels and that's got him on the radar.|
But when you peruse the rest of the names on the roster, and if you were there in Turin three years ago when Canada couldn't score and finished seventh in the men's hockey competition at the Winter Olympics, McDonald's inclusion begins to make more sense.
Speed, man. Speed to burn.
The Canadian team looks to have loads of size and skill at every position, and oodles of forwards who are big-time NHL attackers.
But is there enough speed? In Turin, many things didn't quite gel, and part of the reason was that so many players hadn't played at all the previous season due to the NHL lockout and still had rust on their skates when the Olympics rolled around. But Wayne Gretzky clearly emphasized big, skilled players over smaller, skilled players, so Sidney Crosby sat at home while the odious Todd Bertuzzi played and Bryan McCabe was given shifts while Dan Boyle watched as an alternate.
Teams with industrious and quick players like Finland and Switzerland were able to shut Canada down. The blazing fast Russians did the same.
For this camp, McDonald would probably be the fastest Canadian candidate followed by Patrick Marleau, Marty St. Louis and Eric Staal. Crosby, like Wayne Gretzky and Joe Sakic, has the ability to appear very fast because of his anticipation and hunger for offence.
The fastest Canadian defenceman in the world would be Brian Campbell of the Chicago Blackhawks, but he's not even at this camp.
The caveat to all this, of course, could be that because the 2010 tournament will take place on an NHL sized rink rather than the larger European surface, speed might not matter quite as much while size and strength could be critical. If you keep Robyn Regehr on defence and send Mike Green packing, maybe that's why.
But what's the correct formula?
McDonald, clearly, is in Calgary because of his wheels. Obviously, speed is something Steve Yzerman and Co. are already thinking about.