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Team Canada looks locked and loaded

Updated: 2014-01-09 07:11
By Reuters in Toronto ( China Daily)

Crosby, Toews lead awesome offense in defense of gold

Sidney Crosby will lead the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team at next month's Sochi Winter Games, where a roster made up of National Hockey League millionaires will look to defend the gold medal won four years ago.

Crosby, who scored the golden goal that capped the 2010 Vancouver Games, is among 11 returning Olympians announced to a 25-man team that was being scrutinized on Canadian TV, radio stations and social media since being unveiled on Tuesday.

While the likes of Crosby and Jonathan Toews were unanimous selections, others will be the subject of fiery debate in the hockey-obsessed nation right up to the opening faceoff in Sochi.

"We recognize the very difficult decisions we had to make," said Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman, referring to the depth of talent he had to choose from.

"The hockey world is getting more and more competitive. We won a gut-wrenching gold medal on home ice four years ago and the competition is even harder today."

Team Canada looks locked and loaded

There will be 11 players from Canada's 2010 gold-medal team who will be looking to repeat in Sochi next month: goalie Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks); defensemen Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) and Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings); and forwards Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Toews (Chicago Blackhawks), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins), Rick Nash (New York Rangers), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks), Corey Perry (Ducks) and Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks).

First-time Olympians picked to play for Team Canada are goalies Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and Mike Smith (Phoenix Coyotes); forwards John Tavares (New York Islanders), Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Chris Kunitz (Penguins), Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings), Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks) and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars); and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues), Dan Hamhuis (Canucks), PK Subban (Canadiens) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Sharks).

Crosby, who leads the NHL in scoring with 65 points in 45 games this season, will head an explosive offense that boasts plenty of firepower - including Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning sniper who has not played since breaking his right leg nearly two months ago. He was included on the initial roster but the two-time NHL goal-scoring champion might not be fit to play.

The deadline for Olympic rosters was Tuesday but teams can still drop and add players because of injuries.

"If he is healthy he is obviously one of the 25 best players in Canada and should be on the team," Yzerman said of Stamkos.

Canada's biggest strength will be down the middle with Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, Tavares and Bergeron, who is the NHL's top faceoff man.

At the time of Tuesday's announcement, Crosby, Tavares, Getzlaf and Kunitz ranked first, third, fourth and fifth in NHL scoring.

 Team Canada looks locked and loaded

Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman (left) speaks as head coach Mike Babcock looks on during Tuesday's media conference in Toronto to reveal the hockey roster Canada will send to the Sochi Winter Olympics to defend the gold medal won in Vancouver four years ago. Aaron Harris / Reuters

(China Daily 01/09/2014 page24)