A number of players named to the Canadian team raised eyebrows among hockey circles, including several members of the blueline. Sharks defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the Canucks ‘ Dan Hamhuis were among those not commonly projected to join the team. Competition for spots among the forward crop was anticipated to be fierce, and some surprises registered there as well; not so much for those included, but rather those who missed the final cut.
Following the exclusion of Okposo from the US squad, for which he was a strong candidate, there was some nervous anticipation as to whether Tavares would be on the final Canadian roster. Okposo’s his absence led to speculation part of the problem might be the small market and limited exposure, which would also impact Tavares’ chances.
Tavares will be the lone New York Islander selected for the Canadian team, but not the only Isle to participate in the tournament. Teammates Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek were both selected for the Austrian team. Additionally a couple of players with former ties to the Islanders will skate for the Swiss team. Winger Nino Niederreiter, who was traded last summer for Cal Clutterbuck, and former Islander captain Mark Streit will both suit up for Team Switzerland.
The Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia, will be the sixth international competition for Tavares. He skated for Team Canada in the World Hockey Championships in both 2010 and 2011, failing to medal both years. Tavares also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2008 and 2009, winning gold on both occasions. In 2006 he played for the Canadian squad at the World Under-18 tournament, barely missing out on the bronze medal.
The rest of the Team Canada roster is as follows:
Defense: Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis; Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver; Drew Doughty, Los Angeles; Duncan Keith, Chicago; Shea Weber, Nashville; P.K. Subban, Montreal, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose.
Forward: Jamie Benn, Dallas; Patrice Bergeron, Boston; Jeff Carter, Los Angeles; Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh; Matt Duchene, Colorado; Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Anaheim; Patrick Marleau, San Jose; Rick Nash, New York; Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay; Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Chicago.