There was a knock at the door. Chris Kunitz rose to answer it. There, standing in front of him, was the braintrust for hockey Canada, and after brief video presentation, then a series of speeches, both in French and in English, including one from the minister of transport for some imperceptible reason, Steve Yzerman stepped forward and spoke.
"Chris. Hockey Canada needs you in Sochi. Will you join us in our quest for repeat gold?"
Kunitz thought long and hard. Then he responded. "Yes. On one condition. You also bring... Sidney Crosby."
Some gasped. One fainted. The brain trust turned away, and began murmuring amongst themselves. Finally, Yzerman turned once again to face Kunitz.
"You drive a hard bargain, Christopher. But.... you got yourself a damn deal."
Okay. So that's probably not how it happened. But it might be a little easier to believe that Sidney Crosby said something like that, especially since it serves to explain how Hockey Canada could bring a guy like Kunitz over a guy like, say, Claude Giroux.
Considering the wealth of talent from which Canada had to draw, it would have been impossible to select a team without making a few discussion-worthy snubs, but Giroux is at the top of that list.
Why? Because he's also at the top of this list: the top Canadian scorers over the past three years, via Hockey-Reference:
That's not to say Kunitz is undeserving. He's a very good player, and after all, there he is at sixth on this list.
But if it's just about scoring, again, one wonders how Claude Giroux, the nation's most prolific scorer since 2012, or even Martin St. Louis, fourth on this list, have been left at home so Hockey Canada can bring Kunitz, who probably isn't where he is if he doesn't play alongside Crosby, who sits eighth on this list despite about 60 fewer games played than everyone else. (Although he hasn't scored an international goal in almost four years. Maybe Kunitz can get him going.)
Giroux scored at a level unmatched by anyone else in his country. And it wasn't enough. Fortunately, there's always next Olympics.
Claude Giroux: "I wanted to make the team; it's disappointing. But I'm 26-years-old, and there's a lot of hockey left"
— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) January 7, 2014
The same could be said for Taylor Hall, who's all of 22, and gave pretty much the same quote as Giroux, but said it like a 22-year-old.
"It sucks not making the team when you thought you had a little bit of a chance." T.Hall on Olympic team — Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) January 7, 2014
But the same can't be said for St. Louis, who, at 37, has probably seen his last chance at the Olympics come and go, as his own general manager looked past him. That has to be hard for both of them.
“Personally it was a very difficult decision, whether I was with Tampa Bay or not,’’ Yzerman admitted. “It was a tough decision in 2010 and it was a tough decision this year. Marty is playing very well, he’s a big reason our team is playing very well, he’s a high caliber player, he’s a high character person, and for me, personally it was a tough decision.’’
It was tough for St. Louis as well. He won't address reporters until after Tuesday night's game.
Still, full credit to Hockey Canada, because they pulled a pretty impressive little stunt Tuesday. By selecting P.K. Subban, who was long-rumoured to miss the cut, they managed to avoid the big mistake, meaning the other divisive choices seem like minor matters.
Maybe they'd been driving the Subban snub narrative all along?
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