Revealing look at Team Canada


Don Metz's terrific behind-the-scenes Canadian Olympic hockey selections tableau Home Ice aired for the first time on Saturday night on TSN. There are some interesting revelations.


Don Metz's terrific behind-the-scenes Canadian Olympic hockey selections tableau Home Ice aired for the first time on Saturday night on TSN. There are some interesting revelations.

To wit:

- -Before the start of last spring's NHL playoffs, the head coaching job was between Mike Babcock and Brent Sutter.

- -Jay Bouwmeester of the Calgary Flames is on call if any defenceman goes down with a bum knee or bad shoulder before Feb. 15, when the 23-man roster has to be finalized.

- -Philadelphia Flyers centre Jeff Carter is the 14th forward should anybody get hurt up front.

- -Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, the youngest player on the squad, was close to a slam-dunk with Steve Yzerman and his management team after dazzling in the world championship last spring in Switzerland.

- -The 13th forward came down to Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow versus Flyers captain Mike Richards. Patrice Bergeron, who wasn't invited to the orientation camp in Calgary last August, was safe, as was Eric Staal despite a ponderous start to the season in Carolina because the management team loves his size and speed.

- -At a hideaway in Vancouver last July, the four coaches -- Babcock, Jacques Lemaire, Ken Hitchcock and Lindy Ruff -- worked on systems with Babcock laughingly saying, "We play the simplest game in the National Hockey League ... we only have five ways to play and we just go over them and over them."

- -There was one sobering comment from Hitchcock when the management group of Steve Yzerman, Ken Holland, Kevin Lowe and Doug Armstrong were talking last summer about having a quick team skate on Valentine's Day before the Olympics start in Vancouver on Feb. 16.

"That won't work for me. Columbus plays Sunday at 7 p.m.," said Hitchcock, who now doesn't have to worry what the Blue Jackets schedule looks like after being fired during the past week.

- -When Yzerman is thinking ahead to a possible head coach, he narrows it down to his man in Detroit, Babcock, and Sutter, but that is last spring when Sutter is coaching the New Jersey Devils. Yzerman knows Babcock's style and that he's won a Stanley Cup and "Sutter has played in Canada Cups, coached in the world junior, won Stanley Cups as a player ... these two make the most sense to me."

- -When Sutter's Devils go out in the first round, Babcock is anointed.

- -The management team had Doughty on their radar screen after his rookie season in Los Angeles, but holds off because they want to see how he plays for Canada at the worlds in Bern. To a man, they are blown away by how poised and dominant the 20-year-old is. They see him as a huge talent.

- -When it's time to pick the seven defencemen for Vancouver, there is some early trepidation in some quarters for Chris Pronger, of all people, but that's quickly overrun after more talking. Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Shea Weber, Dan Boyle, Duncan Keith and Doughty are automatics in everybody's book. There is a lot of discussion about Brent Seabrook and Bouwmeester, who played on the 2006 Olympic team in Turin.

"He's got the international experience," one voice said about Bouwmeester.

But Lowe likes Seabrook a lot. "He's big, and he and Keith play

against the other team's best players. It would be tough to break them up," said Lowe.

There is some nervousness about letting Bouwmeester know he's still in the picture while his Calgary defence teammates Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr aren't, and how that would be received from a team standpoint, but they decide to not worry about hurt feelings.

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