"The hockey world is getting more and more competitive every single season," said Yzerman. "We won a gut-wrenching gold-medal in Vancouver on home ice four years ago and the competition is even harder today. Our goal is to go to Sochi and come home with a gold medal. By no means do we consider this an easy task. That is our goal. That is our hope - as it is for everybody in Canada."
Also getting input into the selection process: Head coach Mike Babcock and assistants Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and Claude Julien.
"We understand the opportunity is great," said Babcock, "and that means the preparation has to be equal. We won't let you down in that area, I can assure you. In the end, we put together the best group of players we possibly can. Now, we have to be the best possible team we possibly can. It's always a grind, but it's always a lot of fun - and we'll make you proud."
In the end, Canada wanted a team that could play the go-go-go up-tempo style that Babcock believes will be essential to win an Olympic tournament played on the larger international-sized ice surface.
It is why, for example, they took the Colorado Avalanche’s Matt Duchene ahead of St. Louis, probably the hardest final choice. Duchene’s outside speed, and ability to take the puck to the net, will be essential to create scoring chances and to put pressure on opposing defences.
As for the decision to select Kunitz, Yzerman said he made it in his own right and not just because he plays regularly with Crosby in the NHL. Kunitz joined the Penguins from Anaheim where years ago, he also played with Getzlaf and Perry, so there is some familiarity with two additional Team Canada forwards.
"Chris Kunitz has been an outstanding player throughout his career, a Stanley Cup champion. He played for me in the 2008 world championships in Quebec and Halifax and was a good player for us there. He's a hard-nosed player. He's a skilled player. Yes, he plays with Sidney Crosby and he's been a great contributor not only to that line but to his team - whether it be five-on-five, or on the power play."
Canada is in a group with Norway, Austria and Finland – Group B – for the preliminary round. On paper, it is the weakest of the three groups that will play a round-robin to determine the seeding for the playoff round to follow. The group winners, plus the second place team with the best record, automatically qualify for the quarter-finals, while the remaining eight teams will need to play an extra game in a qualification round to join them. The gold-medal game will be played on Feb. 23.
Because the Olympics are in faraway Sochi, Russia, the International Ice Hockey Federation permitted teams to name 25 players to their rosters instead of 23, so that teams would have extra players available in case of injury.
Canada invited 47 players to its orientation camp in Calgary, and 45 turned up (Thornton and Giroux were excused for personal and injury reasons respectively).
On defence, the team elected to go with Dan Hamhuis as its eighth defenceman, meaning, among others, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf, Mike Green, Karl Alzner, Marc Staal and Travis Hamonic, all of who were in Calgary this summer for the orientation camp, were passed over. None of the three Staal brothers who attended the camp made the final roster.
Among the players who played key roles in 2010 but won’t be back this time around are defencemen Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, both of whom are out of hockey, as well as right winger Jarome Iginla, who set up Crosby for the Golden Goal in the overtime victory over the U.S.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur, who started the 2010 tournament as the team’s No. 1 but was on the bench for the final game, isn’t back either, nor are Dany Heatley and Brenden Morrow, both of whom have become secondary players for their NHL teams these days.
Altogether, there are 11 returnees from the 2010 team.
Executive director Steve Yzerman has announced the 25-man roster (three goalies, eight defenceman and 14 forwards) for Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team at an event in Toronto.
Goalies: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith
Defence: Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, PK Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber
Forward: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Jonathan Toews