Sunday, 21 July 2013

P.K. Subban excluded from the 2014 Team Canada?

So Sportsnet released their prediction-selection of the Sochi Olympics Team Canada hockey roster, and seven out of ten 'experts' left P.K. Subban, this year's Norris Trophy winner and scoring leader for defencemen, off their list.  Which causes a bit of an outcry among Canadiens fans.

Now, about Sportsnet's Olympic Team rosters being awful, and they generally being horrible, I wholeheartedly agree.  I'm on the record that they are.  That P.K. Subban should be on that team is a no-brainer.  Especially after years of this Toronto-shackled crew watching Dion Phaneuf and John-Michael Liles, how could they not see the comparative leap in talent?

And I regularly find myself pointing out how bad Nick Kypreos is.  I resent the fact that a 'player' whose only achievement was taking out Grant Fuhr in a playoff, crashing into him and blowing out his ACL, effectively ending his career, is given a microphone and asked to opine on the game.  That meathead only causes me to want to change the channel when he appears.

On P.K. Subban, I don't think they're biased against him, since they actually employ our boy as a studio personality.  I've seen Doug MacLean and Nick Kypreos and P.K. kibitzing during the lockout, they actually seem to get along.  So that isn't an obvious reason for the snub.

At the start of the season there was some analysis that Team Canada might have too many righties on the blue line, and questions whether they'd take the best d-men and shift the extra righties to the left side, or go with a balanced lineup, three lefties, three righties, match them up, and then throw in a spare.  P.K. was seen as a guy on the cusp, who'd have to play lights out to be included.  Well, he did.  So why the hesitation?  Do they know something we don't know?

One point which we may be forgetting is how Steve Yzerman grudgingly, only at the last minute added P.K. to the World Championship roster in May.  We remember how the blue line on that team was less than impressive, and once the Canadiens were eliminated in five games we felt that P.K. was a lock.  Instead, Steve Yzerman tacked on Dan Hamhuis, harrumphed that he was satisfied with the lineup, and would only add to it if there were injuries.  To which we all went: "Huh?"

Within hours of that announcement, there was a change of heart, P.K. flew to Sweden, and I wondered whether Lindy Ruff told Mr. Yzerman to stop messing around and get him P.K. on his blue line, having been exposed to what the kid can do while coaching the Sabres.

So P.K. still has his work cut out for him, he won the Norris but there are still some doubters and equivocators out there.  I think he's a lock, but just to make extra sure, he'll need to come to camp in great shape, as he usually does, and be routinely excellent early in the season.  More importantly, he'll need to play disciplined hockey, and to keep his nose extra clean off-ice, with no controversies to give ammo to the naysayers.  Because that's the only way they'd try to justify his exclusion from the team: nebulous team dynamics issues and veteranship and chemistry concerns.  That and the 'there are too many right-handed d-men, we could only fit Weber, Seabrook, Doughty, Letang, and Pietrangelo' excuse.

So P.K., fresh off a Norris Trophy season, and racking up all those points in a season when he missed training camp and few games to start, still needs to add to his résumé to merit a spot on the Olympic Team.  Strange but true.

Think of it as having North and South America locked up at Risk, and you're protected on the three landing pads of Kamchatka, Iceland and North Africa.  You've got thirty armies on each, and seem unassailable, but when your turn comes you pile up the new armies you get on those three fronts, because you're also a tempting target and you know someone will inevitably take a shot.

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