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Monday, December 12, 2005

Picking Olympians

Throw out leadership. And who cares who's been there before. What if picking teams for the Olympics in February came down to just who was playing the best when rosters have to be named Dec. 21?

This weekend, I said to a friend of mine, 'What if Team Canada was picked solely based on player's performances this year?' That got me thinking, and I've put together rosters for each of the Top 7 countries based on their players' play this season.

This is strictly statistically based, so defensive defencemen and players on weaker NHL clubs may miss out. Players are sorted by position and are in order of rank for this season (for instance, Spezza is Canada's top ranked forward).

The results are interesting.

Goal: Joseph, Legace, Turco
Defence: McCabe, Redden, Phaneuf, Boucher, Jovanovski, Boyle, Niedermayer
Forward: Spezza, Heatley, Savard, Thornton, Gagne, Staal, Shanahan, Iginla, Lecavalier, Marleau, Jason Williams, Sakic, Arnott

Goal: Grahame, DiPietro, Mike Morrison
Defence: Schneider, Mara, Liles, Corvo, Hatcher, Preissing, Rafalski
Forward: Cole, Gionta, Knuble, Conroy, Modano, Rolston, Connolly, Guerin, Blake, Amonte, Bates, Weight, Gomez

Goal: Kiprusoff, Niittymaki, Toivonen
Defence: Pitkanen, Salo, Timonen, Numminen, Niinimaa, Lydman, Vaananen
Forward: O.Jokinen, Selanne, Lehtinen, S.Koivu, J.Jokinen, Laaksonen, Nieminen, N.Kapanen, Miettinen, J.Ruutu, Pirjeta, M.Koivu

Goal: Lundqvist, Tellqvist, Hedberg
Defence: Lidstrom, Ohlund, Johnsson, Havelid, Lilja, Backman, Norstrom
Forward: Alfredsson, Forsberg, Naslund, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Nylander, Samuelsson, Modin, H.Sedin, D.Sedin, Steen, Sundin, Hedstrom

Czech Republic
Goal: Hasek, Vokoun, Prusek
Defence: Zidlicky, T.Kaberle, Slegr, Kubina, Spacek, F.Kaberle, Rozsival
Forward: Jagr, Prospal, Lang, Straka, Hemsky, Rucinsky, Kotalik, Prucha, Vyborny, Dvorak, Havlat, Sykora, Hejduk

Goal: Budaj
Defence: Visnovsky, Chara, Meszaros, Mezei, Suchy
Forward: Demitra, Nagy, Svatos, Marian Hossa, Bondra, Palffy, Satan, Handzus, Gaborik, Zednik, Petrovicky, Radivojevic, Marcel Hossa

Goal: Bryzgalov,Khabibulin, Nabokov
Defence: Zhitnik, A.Markov, Zubov, Gonchar, Tyutin, Zyuzin, Tverdovsky
Forward: Kovalchuk, Frolov, Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Yashin, S.Kozlov, Samsonov, Mogilny, Afinogenov, Brylin, Kovalev, Fedotenko, V. Kozlov

I'm sure there may be mistakes in here (i.e. I almost put Salei with Russia when he's from Belarus), especially between the Czech/Slovak players (ahem, Mr. Golbez), so let me know and I'll correct the list. I may have also missed someone, so again, let me know.

OK, one more for fun...

Team Canada #2
Goal: Fernandez, Luongo, Emery
Defence: Seabrook, Campbell, DeVries, Pronger, Van Ryn, Blake, Brisebois
Forward: Langkow, Stoll, Morrow, Doan, Hartnell, St.Louis, Tanguay, Crosby, Sullivan, Comrie, Richards, Ryder, Allison

UPDATE First mistake: Toronto-born Knuble moves from Team Canada to the U.S., who lose Parrish as a result. Canada gains Arnott from Team #2, who add Allison.

UPDATE2 Swap Zidlicky to the Czech team, who lose Hamrlik; add Suchy for Slovakia. Any other defencemen that can round out Team Slovak, Jes?


At 9:59 AM, Matt Saler said...

Hmm... I like Team Canada and Team Sweden.

Jason Williams?

Mikael Samuelsson?

Manny Legace?

If only...

At 11:26 AM, Unibrew said...

Mike Knuble played for the USA last WHCs.

At 11:55 AM, pete said...

It's funny - when you do it this way, Team USA looks a lot better than the team they're actually going to send! And Team Sweden looks downright dominating.

I've told you this before, but what makes me laugh about this whole "who'll play for Canada" brouhaha is that its completely irrelevant. For all the thousands of words to be spilled between now and February on the subject, I'd be willing to bet that Team Canada will look startingly similar to how it did the last time they played. I say there will maybe be 4 new players - tops. There'll be a new #7 defenseman. Ditto for the #3 goalie, I suspect. And two new people will come in for Lemieux and Yzerman. The net result? One (or more likely two) of Spezza, Crosby Staal are screwed out of a job.

Canada gets a medal, it most likely won't be gold, and the hand-wringing can begin again for Vancouver 2010.

At 3:29 PM, Jes Gőlbez said...

Interesting results, especially for Canada. It's too bad Team Canada is picking based on 'tenure' rather than results. (I, however, would never pick Jason Arnott)

However, I don't think the Czechs would like us Slovaks 'drafting' Zidlicky, as much ad we'd love to have him ;). For Slovakia, add Radoslav Suchy.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous said...

I agree with Jes,
It's kind of sad, the olympic roster should be based on how the player is currently playing, not on how they did play at one point in the past eight years.
Olympics are to showcase the BEST there is in sports and therefore the best players should be rewarded!

At 11:44 PM, J. Michael Neal said...

A couple of comments.

1) Should we just rename the Red Wings Team Sweden?

2) My research expertise is much deeper in baseball than in hockey, but I'd be really leery about basing everything on a half season of statistics. There are real sample size issues involved. I mean, does anyone really think that Mikael Samuelsson is one of the twelve best forwards from Sweden?

In baseball, what's been found to work best is a weighted average of the last three seasons, with the emphasis on the most recent data. I suspect that something like this would be much better for hockey, though you might need to shorten the time horizon. And how to treat the lockout season would be a real problem.

3) Is Finland likely to take a bunch of non-NHL players again?

At 2:33 AM, Lee said...

For the love of god, take Gonchar off of any performance based list.

At 11:00 AM, Jes Gőlbez said...

Well, Slovakia will be filled out with some non-NHLers and Ex-NHLers like Martin Strbak and Richard Lintner and Jan Lasak.


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