[Photo Credit: Luis M. Alvarez / AP]
Team Canada released the official roster for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia Tuesday morning, and as expected, there were many controversial selections.
Some speculated that all three would be selected and Team Canada would go with an all-Penguins line for the Olympics. With Pascal Dupuis sidelined due to injury, the Penguins originally placed James Neal to play alongside Crosby and Kunitz until Evgeni Malkin returned.
Rob Rossi reported that just a few days ago Kunitz and Neal would both not be making the trip, leaving Crosby the sole Penguins player on Team Canada.
When the roster was released however, it was Neal who was left off the list.
The argument for Kunitz was simple, he has played alongside Crosby for years.
No matter what wing pairing Crosby centers, the line will flourish. He's not only arguably the best player in the world, but he as unselfish as they come and will always make those around him better. He has a better hockey sense than anyone and can constantly thread the needle with crisp passes, but the chemistry between him and Kunitz is unteachable.
The argument for James Neal was simple as well, the guy scores goals.
Over the last three NHL seasons, no other Canadian winger has more goals than James Neal. He had the luxury of playing alongside Malkin for most of those three seasons, but there's no doubt on his scoring ability. His ability to convert on the power play was another reason to believe he belonged on the roster. Neal led the league after the 2011-2012 season with 18 power play goals.
It's sad that Neal didn't make the final cut, as many Penguins fans, myself included, were looking forward to seeing an all-Penguins line in Sochi, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Team Canada is so stacked up front that Neal wasn't the only one who was controversially left off the list. Tyler Seguin, Claude Giroux, Martin St. Louis, and Milan Lucic are all guys who could have been selected, but were not.
Kris Letang didn't make the cut either, but that's not too surprising due to how Team Canada selected their line up. When Canada won the gold in 2010, they did it with offensive firepower and defensive defensemen. Letang just doesn't fit that mold. He could have been used to quarterback the power play, but P.K. Subban will most likely fill that role.
Letang also just returned from an elbow injury which sidelined him for almost a month, so that could have possibly went into the decision as well.
Other Penguins who will make the trip to Sochi are Olli Maatta and Jussi Jokinen, who will play for Finland, and Evgeni Malkin, who will play for Russia, making it a grand total of seven Penguins (Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin for Team USA) who will play in the Olympic Games.
- James Neal or Chris Kunitz? Which Pittsburgh Penguin Will Be Jobbed by Hockey Canada
- Chris Kunitz Making Serious Case for Top Tier Status
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/16g1