Two San Jose Sharks were named to the Canadian Olympic roster today. After months of speculation about the five Sharks that could possibly make the team, Canada chose to take Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau to Sochi.
While the other, more offense-driven Sharks generated much more controversy and discussion, Marc-Edouard Vlasic was also quietly positioning himself as a lock for the hardest hockey team to make in the world. Unlike many of his Team Canada teammates, his offensive numbers aren't flashy - but by all possession metrics he is one BAMF defensively. After 8 seasons of working mostly anonymously in San Jose (outside of being known for his nickname), Vlasic finally gained recognition as one of the best defensive defensemen in the world.
Last summer, when the Olympic orientation camp was announced, Patrick Marleau was one of three players from the 2010 gold medal winning team to not be invited. The other two - Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley - are very obviously on the downswings of their careers. Marleau has admitted using that as motivation for this season, and - along with Couture - formed an elite shutdown/possession-driving forward pairing that has played with all sorts of AHL players this season. At age 34, he still is one of the fastest players in the NHL, which definitely contributed to his selection.
After months of speculation that Logan Couture was a near-lock for Team Canada due to his versatility and insanely good possession numbers, he failed to make the team. It's not much of a surprise after last night's news that he will miss 3-4 weeks with surgery to his hand, but it's still disappointing considering he had likely earned a spot before that news. Couture has never played for Team Canada higher than the U-18s level, which is crazy considering he was ranked #1 at some point in his draft year. Needless to say, I predict Couture to play everyone like he plays Canadian teams after this snub - like a man possessed.
Joe Thornton is another omission from the roster, though less surprising than Couture. On a roster stacked at center, Joe Thornton would have a tough time displacing Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, or Bergeron, and he is unable to switch to wing. There were also concerns about his foot speed on the big ice, and maybe a few seeds of doubt from his less-than-fantastic performances in the past two Olympics. Thus, the NHL's fourth leading point scorer - and assist leader - will stay home this February.
Dan Boyle was another Sharks considered due to his power play pedigree, but his play has yet to recover from the Lapierre-induced concussion and general age factors.
Here is the rest of the Team Canada roster:
With all the Olympic rosters released, the Sharks' Olympian count rests at four - Joe Pavelski (USA), Antti Niemi (FIN), and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau (CAN). There likely would have been three more Olympians if not for injuries (Havlat, Hertl, and Couture).