Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis both ‘excited’ to get Olympic Team Canada invitations
VANCOUVER — Roberto Luongo would seem to be a virtual lock to make Canada’s Olympic hockey roster. Vancouver Canucks teammate Dan Hamhuis is anything but.
Luongo and Hamhuis were the only Canucks among 47 players invited Monday to Hockey Canada’s Olympic orientation camp Aug. 25-28 in Calgary.
Luongo, who helped lead Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 in Vancouver, is one of five goalies invited to the camp. The others are Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks, Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes.
It’s hard to imagine Luongo not being one of the three goalies that Canada will take to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Games, which run from Feb. 6-23, with the men’s hockey tournament going from Feb. 12-23.
Reporter Brad Ziemer’s 3 goalies: Corey Crawford; Roberto Luongo; Mike Smith.
YOUR TOP 3 GOALIES? VOTE HERE (works only on desktop computer)
“Obviously I’m very excited to get an opportunity to represent my country at the biggest stage,” Luongo told The Vancouver Sun in an email Monday.
Steve Yzerman, executive director of Team Canada, is not about to commit to a starter at this point, but suggested Monday that the recent trade that sent Cory Schneider to New Jersey should benefit Luongo.
“We’ll worry about the starter after naming the final three that we’ll take to Sochi,” Yzerman said in a conference call Monday. “I think some of that will work itself out over the course of the first part of the season. Roberto obviously was the goalie in net when we won in Vancouver and performed well in that tournament. He’s an experienced goaltender and with the change in Vancouver I would assume he will play a lot in the first half of the season, which will bode well for Canada.”
Hamhuis has to be described as something of a long shot at this point. He is one of 17 defencemen invited to the Calgary camp and will need a strong first half to be among the eight selected to go to Sochi.
The list of defensive invitees includes Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and Brent Seabrook, who were all on the 2010 gold medal team, as well as Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, Kris Letang, Alex Pietrangelo and Dion Phaneuf.
“It’s obviously a huge honour being invited with a group of guys like that,” Hamhuis said in a phone interview Monday. “I am pretty excited.”
Reporter Brad Ziemer’s 8 defencemen: Drew Doughty; Dan Hamhuis; Duncan Keith; Kris Letang; Alex Pietrangelo; Brent Seabrook; P.K Subban; Shea Webber.
YOUR TOP 8 DEFENCEMEN? VOTE HERE (works only on desktop computer)
Hamhuis knows he has his work cut out for him to make the team.
“There are a lot of great players that are on that list invited to this camp,“ he said. “I am not overly concerned about what the other guys are doing. My focus will be the same that it has been for other years, come in and have a great season. I don’t want to put a whole lot of extra pressure on myself. But it certainly is something I would love to be a part of.”
Yzerman cited Hamhuis’s history with Hockey Canada and his participation in five world championships as among the reasons for his invitation.
“Dan has played very well for Canada at these international events,” Yzerman said. “He understands it. He is a reliable guy, very good defensively, has good mobility and his shot-blocking ability and hockey sense make him a candidate for this team.”
Hamhuis thinks his experience on the large Olympic ice surfaces will help his chances.
“It is quite a different game over there and I have played in six tournaments over there now and I really enjoy it,” Hamhuis said. “I like the big ice, I like the space out there but you really have to adjust your game, especially as a defenceman, to deal with the speed of the opposing forwards. That’s one thing, if I were to get picked to play on that team, I have confidence with my experience in playing over there in that style.”
Twenty-five forwards have been invited to the Calgary camp and Yzerman suggested some may have to play out of position. Canada has an embarrassment of riches at the centre position.
“We’ll be forced to move a couple of centremen to the wing just because we are very, very deep down the middle,” he said. “That’s just the way it is.”
Reporter Brad Ziemer’s 14 forwards: Patrice Bergeron; Logan Couture; Sidney Crosby; Ryan Getzlaf; Claude Giroux; Taylor Hall; Chris Kunitz; Milan Lucic; James Neal, Corey Perry; Steven Stamkos; John Tavares; Martin St. Louis; Jonathan Toews.
YOUR TOP 14 FORWARDS? VOTE HERE (works only on desktop computer)
Yzerman also said choosing the final roster won’t be easy.
“I believe if every person in Canada put together a team of 25 players there might be a dozen or so that every single person would have on their team,” Yzerman said. “It’s that second half of the group that we have to figure out.”
Yzerman stressed there will be room for role players on the team.
“We are not putting together a team for a NHL All-Star Game,” he said. “We are putting together the best possible team we can to compete against the best players in the world and try and win a gold medal.”
ICE CHIPS: The Olympic roster is being increased to 25 from 23 players. Yzerman said he expects Canada will take 14 forwards, eight defencemen and three goalies to Sochi … Canucks centre Ryan Kesler is one of 48 players invited to the U.S. Olympic camp Aug. 26-27 in Arlington. Va. … Former Canuck Cory Schneider is one is six goalies invited … Detroit coach Mike Babcock will return as head coach of Team Canada. He will have three other NHL head coaches as his associate coaches: Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis); Claude Julien (Boston) and Lindy Ruff (Dallas).
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