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
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
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?