On Tuesday morning, it was annouced through a source that, this Thursday, Detroit Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock will be named head coach of Team Canada for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Team Canada’s Executive Director is Steve Yzerman so this appointment shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone.
What it does mean, though, is Jonathan Toews will have every opportunity to represent Canada when the Olympics roll around. While Team Canada’s list of potential centers is a murderer’s row, Yzerman has never been shy about his boy-crush on Toews. After the Western Conference Finals concluded, Babcock went out of his way to say that Toews is the franchise player of the Blackhawks.
Earlier in the year, Toews’ name was nowhere near the list of players being considered. Joe Thornton, Mike Richards, Sidney Crosby, and Ryan Getzlaf were all considered locks. Now, only Getzlaf and Crosby look for certain like they will be wearing the black and red in Vancouver.
With Babcock and Yzerman having the biggest say on who makes the team, I would be shocked if Toews isn’t named to the team. Assuming of course, that a) he’s healthy and b) having a productive season next year.
Toews would join teammate Patrick Kane in Vancouver. Kane is about as close to a lock for Team USA as there can be. USA General Manager Brian Burke has already singled out Kane along with Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils saying they represent the next wave of great young talent to come out of the States.
At this point, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith look like extreme long shots to make Team Canada. Not that this is a bad thing, though. I still don’t know how I feel about the NHL stopping its season for two weeks; letting all their best players risk injury and fatigue in, essentially, a meaningless tournament (to the NHL); then expecting them to come back and gear back up for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.
It does make for some excellent theater, however.