February 11, 2010
"If for some reason the team has trouble scoring, you just know there will be plenty of questions about the failure to include Steven Stamkos(notes) on the club." - Mike Brophy, Sportsnet, on Team Canada's fortunes.
Look at this roster. No, seriously: Look at it. If for some reason Team Canada has trouble scoring, you know there will be plenty of questions about what type of food poisoning they all suffered through or who stole their sticks.
There won't be, or least there shouldn't be, any questions about why Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning isn't on this roster and, barring some injury catastrophe, won't join the team in Vancouver. (Jeff Carter(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers gets the call if Ryan Getzlaf is too injured to go.) It's not just Brophy: TSN has discussed the Stamkos "snub," too.
How quickly we forget why Stamkos isn't on that roster now. ...
Stamkos is one of the biggest stories of the season, no doubt: 33 goals, 14 of them on the power play, and 63 points that place him 13th in the NHL. He's been every bit the player he was touted to be when the Lightning selected him No. 1 and then marketed him accordingly (and prematurely). The notion that he was going to be a bust was always outlandishly dumb, but this sophomore season is beyond expectations.
That said: The Team Canada Orientation Camp roster was announced on July 2. At that time, Stamkos was coming off a disastrous rookie season, as his first-half flop caused lineup issues before a second-half rally in the NHL and world championships showed some promise. But he hadn't earned a spot on that roster or in that camp. To recall executive director Steve Yzerman at the time, there was also a numbers game at play with Stamkos and Team Canada:
"He's a guy we debated right up to the last minute," said Yzerman. "When I finalized the list, I wanted a manageable number.
"You can't have too many bodies on the ice. If he comes out of the gate strong, he'll get consideration. He's a player I'll watch this fall. He was good at the world championship, but you look at the depth of centremen we have – 10 or 11. And we had to bring some different types of players.''
Again: Look at this roster. Which center do you expunge for Stamkos? Which role-playing forward do you delete for those power-play numbers?
The only argument that can be made for Stamkos being on this roster is the experience one. Drew Doughty's(notes) riding shotgun over Jay Bouwmeester(notes) because he's the future of the blue line, for example.
A lot of this Stamkos stuff stems from Sidney Crosby(notes) not getting the call in 2006 as an 18-year-old, and then the team stinking offensively. It's left some pundits psychologically scarred, evidently.
Again: Stamkos has been a revelation this season. He was not this player when the selection process began, and Team Canada has needs that go beyond offense at the forward spot. Treating his absence as a make-or-break factor in team's medal hopes is preposterous.