Thursday, February 18, 2010

Canada's 2010 Men's Hockey Team - A Lesson in Chemistry

This article will be published in the February 19th edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

During my time at Laurentian Regional High School in Lachute Quebec, it is fair to say I was an average student. While I excelled in my English and History classes, other courses like Math and Chemistry eluded me; not for lack of great teachers, it was easier for my mind to grasp concepts like writing, Canadian history and my specialty, daydreaming about sports.

Luckily, for Canada and the men's Olympic hockey team, the management group of Steve Yzerman, Kevin Lowe, Doug Armstrong and Ken Holland must have excelled in Chemistry class; the players that they have assembled for the Olympic Tournament is a textbook lesson in team chemistry. Every player named to the roster has worn the red and white Canadian sweater in the World Junior Championship, the World Championship, the World Cup or the Olympics.

One of the first chapters in Team Canada’s chemistry lesson is NHL chemistry. Canada’s General Manager, Steve Yzerman, brought in one of the NHL’s most proficient forward lines. All members of the San Jose Sharks, Patrick Marleau is skating with his NHL linemates, Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton during the Olympics. The Sharks are near the top of the NHL standings thanks to the offence provided by this trio. Thornton is fifth in league scoring with 16 goals and 75 points, Heatley is ninth with 32 goals and 66 points, while Marleau is thirteenth with 38 goals and 64 points. By adding Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle to the mix, with his 11 goals and 45 assists, Canada’s power play could be devastating.

Team Canada also includes the Chicago Blackhawks top defensive pair of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Second in scoring among NHL defencemen, Keith has 11 goals, 52 points and is a plus 23 in the plus/minus rating (goals for and against while at even strength). Playing a more defensive role, Seabrook has 3 goals and 22 points with a plus/minus rating of +21. Joining Seabrook and Keith from the Blackhawks is 21-year-old Jonathan Toews. Currently in his third season in the NHL, Toews is emerging as one of the rising young stars in the league, his 19 goals and 47 points places him fourth in scoring on the Blackhawks.

Another important lesson when looking to build team chemistry will be the ability of the players to assume a leadership role. Led by two-time Olympian and Anaheim Ducks Captain Scott Niedermayer, nine players representing Canada wear the “C” for their NHL clubs. They include Roberto Luongo (Vancouver), Brenden Morrow (Dallas), Jarome Iginla (Calgary), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Mike Richards (Philadelphia), Eric Staal (Carolina), Rick Nash (Columbus) and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh).

Canada’s roster also includes seven players that wear the “A” as Assistant Captains on their NHL clubs: Duncan Keith (Chicago), Shea Weber (Nashville), Chris Pronger (Philadelphia), Dan Boyle (San Jose), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Joe Thornton (San Jose), and Partice Bergeron (Boston).

While the true test of Canada’s hockey team does not come until Sunday when they take on the United States in the final game of their group round, the pressures on the team have been mounting since the seventh place finish in the 2006 Games. Thanks to the lessons of the past, Steve Yzerman and his fellow managers have focused on talent and chemistry, making this group of Canadian players one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Have a great sports day everyone.

Photo by tyfn on Flickr.

No comments: