Already Making A Case for '14
The good thing about winning is that it cuts down on the second guessing. Way down.
Such is surely the case for Team Canada 2010 after winning gold at the Olympics. Unlike '98, when Wayne Gretzky sat nailed to the bench during the shootout, or '06, when Todd Bertuzzi was selected to the team instead of Sidney Crosby, executive director Steve Yzerman doesn't have legions questioning why he did this or didn't do that.
If Canada hadn't won, regardless of whether defeat had occurred in the gold medal game or earlier, the critics would have come out of the woodwork with reasons why the team had been beaten. Some of the criticisms would have been about the performance of those who were there, and some would have concerned those not invited. That's just the way it works.
Which brings us to Steven Stamkos. Given that Patrice Bergeron, to name one member of Team Canada, didn't exactly flourish in Vancouver, you can imagine that the howling over the exclusion of Stamkos would have been deafening had Canada not won.
Especially with the way Stamkos is going these days.
The young Bolts sniper, clearly now the face of the Tampa franchise as it experiences yet another change in ownership, has hit the 40-goal mark after a two-goal effort against Atlanta Saturday night. Stamkos is riding a team record 16-game point streak and is now seventh in NHL scoring.
He's also now clearly in the running for the Rocket Richard Trophy, trailing only Sidney Crosby (44 goals) and Alex Ovechkin (42) in the goal-scoring race.
After a hot start that put him into the Olympics conversation in the first place, Stamkos appeared to hit the wall in his second NHL season, scoring three goals in 18 games at one point.
But he's revved it up again, particularly helpful with the Lightning desperately trying to get to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
If they were picking a Canadian Olympic team today, it would be nearly impossible to leave Stamkos off.
But they're not, so he has to wait until 2014, and hope that the NHL still wants to be part of the five-ring circus by then.