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Canada's picked, but more work for Yzerman

Thursday, 01.07.2010 / 10:22 AM / News
By Dan Rosen
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Canada\'s picked, but more work for Yzerman
Even though the Canadian Olympic is selected, Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman still has plenty to do.
Just because his daunting task of selecting Team Canada is now complete, Steve Yzerman isn't about to kick up his legs while sipping on a fruity cocktail poolside for the next month.

Yzerman, Team Canada's executive director for the 2010 Winter Olympics, at least allowed himself a few days in the Florida sun with his family after naming the 23-man roster Canada will take to the Games, but he had to go to British Columbia earlier this week to bury his maternal grandmother, who passed away at age 95.

When NHL.com caught up with Yzerman on Wednesday afternoon, he was on his way back to Detroit, where he planned to settle in and watch a lot of hockey.

Really, what else can the man do?
The San Jose forward line (of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau) got stronger, stronger and stronger and it became clear to us that they would be on the team. - Steve Yzerman

His roster is out there for public consumption and it won't change unless one of his 23 players suffers an injury that threatens their participation in the Olympics. Patrice Bergeron's doesn't count because his broken thumb should keep him out for only two weeks.

Yzerman said he won't even be watching on the edge of his seat -- unless the action takes him there -- while praying nobody gets hurt. As he said, there's nothing he can do anyway, so why make yourself go nuts?

"We will keep watching and hopefully nobody gets hurt," Yzerman told NHL.com. "We continue to watch players and make decisions if they are necessary should someone get hurt. We just continue to watch and stay abreast of what is going on around the League. I'm not going to react immediately to replacing any player."

More than anything, the main tasks for Team Canada fall on the coaching staff, including Mike Babcock, Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock and Jacques Lemaire.

They have to figure out the lines, defensive pairs and power play combinations before they get to Vancouver because there is only one pre-Olympic practice scheduled before Canada opens Feb. 16 against Norway.

They also have a lot of pre-scouting of opponents to do. Canada also plays Switzerland and the United States in the preliminary round.

Yzerman can be of assistance in all of the above, but mainly he will get his hand into the pre-scouting phase. He's learned about the European players who don't play in the NHL because he has been to the World Championships the last couple years.

"Hockey Canada will take care of all the logistics and legwork in terms of preparation for players' families and flights," Yzerman said. "Right now it's about preparation and any pre-scouting and I will have input on that. Being at the Worlds, I have gotten to know these European players well, the guys that aren't in the NHL."

While most of Canada, if not the entire hockey world, is dissecting his roster and offering their opinions, Yzerman is trying to steer clear of all of that analysis.

It does him no good anyway.

"I think everybody feels generally that this is a great team and then they say, 'How come you didn't pick this guy?' " he said. "That doesn't come as a surprise to me. Everybody has a different opinion and there is a lot of depth of talent to choose from. I haven't really paid much attention or looked for particular reaction. I stay away from it."

Not surprisingly, when we asked Yzerman to reveal which player received the most attention in the debates between he and his staff of Kevin Lowe, Ken Holland, Doug Armstrong and coach Mike Babcock, Yzerman stayed away.

He did admit earlier that they had lively discussions until the last few hours before the team was finally revealed, but as a whole picking this team was a gradual process that worked itself out over time.

"If you start at the regular season this year, maybe there was six forwards that we figured would be on the team and maybe four defensemen and it evolved from there," Yzerman said. "A little bit at a time it became clear. The San Jose forward line (of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau) got stronger, stronger and stronger and it became clear to us that they would be on the team. When we got to Saskatoon, we had a small group of players to debate. You are trying to figure out who is the right player to go into a particular spot.

"We talked a lot and discussed a lot of possibilities to go with this team," Yzerman added. "We finally made our decision on the 23 players and it's time to move on. We feel good about this team. We selected our 23 and it's time to move forward."



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