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Goalie situation for Team Canada could get juicy
Posted: Monday November 26, 2001 6:47 PM
By Jon A. Dolezar, CNNSI.com
I just received the screenplay for a new Canadian soap opera that has some potential. It may not be as steamy and melodramatic as its Mexican counterparts, but the storylines have plenty of juice to last through, say, mid-February. So here is a basic outline of As the Crease Turns, the thrilling new drama based on the continuing trevails surrounding the goaltending race of the world's greatest hockey nation.
The series opens with the all powerful ruler of the Canadian hockey underworld, Wayne, contemplating the fortunes of the six candidates, each of whom is under consideration to be a member of the Canadian team.
First there is Patrick, the experienced one who may or may not have shunned an entire nation due to hubris by pulling his name out of consideration. Patrick is unquestionably the greatest to ever wield a blocker and mask, but he claims he would rather get healthy to make one more run at a silver cup (of which he already owns four) than to hang a gold medal around his neck.
Next comes Martin, the protege who grew up as Patrick's apprentice and appears ready to inherit the mantle. Martin often gets criticized for playing in the right "system," but he has two silver cups of his own and is the best puckhandler of the bunch.
Then we are introduced to CuJo, the rabid, at-times surly and enigmatic cast member who thinks he is worth more money than he is. CuJo probably is the best choice based on his current play, but his apparent unwillingness to accept anything less than a starting nod costs him big points.
Then comes Eddie, the wacky outcast who probably doesn't deserve to be mentioned among the top six anymore but is, largely as a nod to career achievement ... and fear that he may snap if he isn't. Eddie also might struggle with the lack of corner taverns in Salt Lake City if he is named to the team.
And this is a good one. Sean works for Wayne, and while he isn't the equal of Patrick, Martin or Curtis, Wayne doesn't want to upset his employee by making him think he isn't cut of the same cloth as these other five fellows. So Sean is in consideration, too.
But the most intriguing player may be Roberto, the future star who will be wielding his goalie stick long after Patrick, Martin, Curtis, Eddie and Sean have gone into retirement. Roberto probably wouldn’t see any action in Salt Lake, but at only 22, there are many more Olympics in his future and he could get valuable experience riding the pine.
If I had to guess how this sordid plot will figure itself out, I would bet that Martin gets the starting nod, no doubt upsetting Curtis, who will march out on his country and demand even more money to stay with the Leafs next season. And we all know that the jilted lover always gets what he wants. Sean will get the backup gig, not just because Wayne wants his guy to think he's good, but because he does have two previous Olympics under his belt and is playing well for the Coyotes. As for the third guy, I see Roberto beating out crazy Eddie, who probably wouldn't like being the third banana. Roberto, on the other hand, can watch and learn from Martin and build himself for the future.
As the Crease Turns appears to be steamier than Melrose Place, more foul-mouthed than The Howard Stern Show and have more heavy breathing than a Don Cherry "Coach’s Corner" segment on Hockey Night in Canada. It looks like Team Canada is heading toward an interesting two months leading up to the Olympic Games with speculation about who decided what and why. This whole Canadian goalie situation is threatening to become absurd, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
| Make up your mind already! |
The rumors of a Peter Forsberg return to the NHL persist, but Foppa insists there is nothing new to report. He seems happy to sit at home in Sweden and build his golf course with his father, Kent. "I'll say what I've said over and over -- this has to take the time it needs. The decision is up to my body, and as of now I have no time limit for my break from hockey," Forsberg told the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet this weekend. "Everything is just the way it was from the beginning. I haven't even started to skate." The "deadline" to announce Olympic rosters is Dec. 22, but that date is very flexible. Technically, each country has until 24 hours before its first game in Salt Lake City to announce its final roster, with allowances to be made for late injuries. But Forsberg has maintained he won’t play with Sweden in the Olympics if he isn’t back in the NHL by then. And with the calendar nearing a flip to December and Forsberg sounding indignant at the mention of Jan. 3 as a possible return date, a Forsberg-less Sweden team and Avalanche playoff run is looking more and more like a possibility.
| It’s always a great day for hockey |
Hard to believe it has already been 10 years since the death of "Badger" Bob Johnson, one of the great coaches and personalities ever in hockey. Growing up in Wisconsin, Badger Bob was an icon and one of the biggest reasons I started playing and following the sport. Summers were spent attending Badger Bob Hockey Camp, while winters were occupied cheering on the Badgers, even after he left for the NHL in 1982. Johnson won three national championships at Wisconsin and then led the Flames and Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals (winning with Pittsburgh in 1991) in his time in the NHL before dying of a brain tumor on Nov. 26, 1991. Badger Bob did so much for the sport, but will always be remembered for his oft-spoken mantra of "it’s a great day for hockey."
Calgary @ Detroit -- Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST |
Two of the best in the West do battle at the Joe. Czech goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Roman Turek may get top billing, but super scorers Jarome Iginla and Brendan Shanahan hope to ruin the goalies' evenings. Detroit might not think getting a top team at home is necessarily a good thing, since it is 9-1-0-1 on the road but "only" 11-2-1-0 at home this season.
Boston @ Philadelphia -- Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Neither team has been playing particularly inspired hockey lately, but a battle between two tough teams in the Northeast always is worth keeping an eye on. Joe Thornton, Sergei Samsonov, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne are among the most exciting young players in the game, so this meeting shouldn’t finish without fireworks from one of this quartet.
Colorado @ Calgary -- Saturday, 9 p.m. EST |
Before the season you wouldn’t have got much of an argument that this game would be between a division leader and the basement dweller. But if you had said that the Avs would be the ones looking up at the Northwest Division from the bottom, it might’ve raised questions about your mental health. The Avs are only 4-10-1 on the road this season while Calgary is 9-0-2-2 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
| Plus: Nikolai Khabibulin |
The Bulin Wall took home this week’s player of the week award after dishing out two consecutive shutouts and posting a 3-0 record with a 0.67 Goals Against Average and a .980 save percentage. Tampa Bay’s offense appears to be rounding into shape and with Nik at night guarding the net so well, the Lightning are tied with the Caps for second in the Southeast.
| Minus: Scott Young |
After getting Doug Weight from Edmonton in the offseason, the Blues were supposed to be better than this. Young has only four goals in 18 games, well off his 40-goal pace from a year ago. St. Louis has regressed as a team this season and its lack of production outside of Tkachuk, Weight, Demitra and MacInnis is the big reason why.
| Plus: Marian Gaborik |
Marian the librarian had three goals and two assists last week to give him 12 goals and 14 assists in 23 games this season. Most thought Gaborik would develop into an elite scorer after watching him tally 36 points in his rookie year last season at age 18, but did anyone think he’d be over a point per game for such a defensive-minded team?
| Minus: Patrick Marleau |
What in the name of Pat Falloon is going on with Marleau’s career? The 22-year-old center has only eight points in 22 games this season after scoring a respectable 177 in the first 399 games of his career. Marleau is clearly headed the wrong way right now and has been a healthy scratch recently.
| Plus: Saku Koivu |
The Habs’ captain has been skating with the team recently and wants to make a return this season if Montreal makes the playoffs. Koivu has been missed by the Canadiens, but the new line of Gilmour-Savage-Audette looks promising. Here’s to a continued speedy recovery in the hopes that we see No. 11 back with the bleu, blanc et rouge in the postseason.
| Minus: Petr Buzek |
The Thrashers have stuck by Buzek through a slow injury recovery but got burned by his selfish demands. It takes a lot of guts for a guy who has often been a healthy scratch recently on the worst team in the league to ask for a trade. Kudos to Don Waddell and Stan Kasten for suspending Buzek rather than giving him his wishes.
| Plus: Trevor Linden |
Back in a city that he loves, he now gets to center Markus Naslund. Yeah, I’d say that beats skating the third or fourth line in D.C. with Joe Sacco or Dainius Zubrus. Linden had a goal and three assists last week, showing that he still has the skills to produce when given enough ice time.
| Minus: Dmitri Khristich |
Former 30-goal scorer can’t even crack the Caps’ lineup right and has only one assist in seven games this season. Khristich has only 25 goals in his past 130 games and at a salary of $3.2 million, he is one of the most overpaid players in the league right now.
| "It's not hockey. It might as well be Scrabble."|
| -- Rangers right wing Theo Fleury on the use of shootouts in the Olympics.|
| "We didn't name a goaltender [to the designated eight] in the first place because we knew we had at least four and maybe more good Canadians. I saw Patrick [Roy] say at one point: 'Take the hot guy and run with him.' Well, we were waiting to see if there was going to be a hot guy."|
| -- Toronto head coach Pat Quinn, who will coach Team Canada in the 2002 Olympics. |
OK, so not every week in Lindrosville can culminate with a hat trick like last week against the Thrashers. Lindros had three assists in three games during the past week, though the Rangers went only 1-2 to cool down from their torrid play. Lindros finished +2 for the week and is now +16 for the season, tied for fourth-best in the league.
In the Rangers’ 6-2 loss to the Capitals on Friday night, Lindros played a season-low 15:55, but finished with 19 penalty minutes for his role in the late-game mayhem/mega-brawl.
The Rangers have five games in six nights this week that should test Lindros and his teammates’ conditioning and toughness.
Follow Lindros' progress this season here in the Head Games section of the Glance every week.
| Last week's topic: What are the best/worst looking jerseys in hockey?|
The worst are Nashville's new third jersey. I can just see the design meeting now: "Well, our road jerseys are black, home are white, so I guess the third should be ... of course! Puke! We've done it again!"|
Shubh Sidhu, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The best are Detroit’s and Toronto’s. Classic two-color jerseys that keep it simple and look great. I wish expansion teams would look at the Original Six before unveiling the latest teal, mauve, and cranberry combination.
Joe Kiervin, Toronto
The Red Wings' jerseys are not only best in hockey, but the best in sports. They look as good on Brett Hull as they did on Gordie Howe.
When talking about the best looking jersey in the NHL, you have to mention the classy uniforms of the Original Six. The worst must be the Kings' of the early '80s. What was that?!?
Randy Pray, Cadyville, N.Y.
The best jerseys in the league would have to be the St. Louis Blues’ jerseys and the worst would have to be the third jerseys for Colorado.
Tim Monteith, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
The best are the Chicago Blackhawks -- love the detail in the artwork and the consistency. The worst are the Columbus Blue Jackets which are made for the IHL.
Tom Marist, Buffalo, Mich.
Absolutely, hands down, the all-blue Toronto Maple Leafs jersey is the best.
Dave Skergan, Raleigh, N.C.
The Boston Bruins’ third jersey is the worst. That teddy bear is far from intimidating, and that yellow should only be used for school buses.
Bob Hudson, Revere, Mass.
| This week's topic: What is the best arena in the NHL?|
Jon A. Dolezar covers the NHL for CNNSI.com. "Week at a Glance" appears each Monday during the season.
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