CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored three goal through two periods on his birthday, watches teammates from the bench as they take on the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 27, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Avalanche 7-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The announcement of Canada’s Olympic hockey roster was always going to be an interesting one for Chicago Blackhawks fans, with as many as five players potentially making the squad.
Ultimately, only three made it. Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will all represent their country in the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The big name on that list is Sharp, who will make his first Olympic appearance for Team Canada in what is shaping up to be his best season as a pro. He has 25 goals and 21 assists so far this season and has excelled in all areas of the ice.
Joining Sharp in Sochi will be a couple of guys who were absolute locks for the roster. Toews, who was named the Most Outstanding Player as Canada won gold in Vancouver in 2010, has 15 goals and 29 assists so far this season for the Blackhawks, and has helped the team’s top line (along with Sharp and Marian Hossa) become one of the league’s elite offensive units.
On the defensive side of things, Keith was the first defenseman named to the roster, and rightfully so. He is arguably the league’s leading candidate for the Norris Trophy this season, with his defensive skills and offensive prowess (3 goals, 39 assists in 45 games) helping the Blackhawks to be one of the best all-around teams in the NHL.
Just as notable as who did make it from the Blackhawks is which players will be sitting at home. Corey Crawford’s lower body injury and smaller track record than other goaltenders likely led to him being left off of the Canadian roster, with Mike Smith (Coyotes), Roberto Luongo (Canucks), and Carey Price (Canadiens) all making the squad.
Crawford will be joined by Brent Seabrook as those who barely missed the roster, as Seabrook’s 31 points (5 G, 26 A) so far this season weren’t quite good enough to make the cut for the Canadians. Dan Hamhuis (Canucks), Jay Bouwmeester (Blues), Drew Doughty (Kings), Alex Pietrangelo (Blues), PK Subban (Canadiens), Marc Edouard-Vlasic (Sharks), and Shea Weber (Predators) round out the blue line corps for the Canadians.
Canada will begin Group B play on February 13th when they take on Norway. Former Blackhawk Antti Niemi will backstop one of Canada’s Group B foes as Finland and Austria round out that group.