Friday, February 18, 2022

Remembering the lesser-known stars who played for Team Canada in a best-on-best tournament

Last week, we built a roster of 20 Canadian stars who never got to play for Team Canada in a best-on-best tournament. It ended up being a pretty solid group, one that included big names like Ron Francis, Bernie Parent and Cam Neely. It was so good, in fact, that at the end of the piece I included a one-sentence throwaway line where I wondered if they’d beat a roster of the worst players who did get to play for Team Canada.

I should have known what would come next. Sure enough, a lot of you wanted to see that roster too. OK, let’s do it.

The rules will be the same as last week. We need twelve forwards, six defensemen and two goalies who suited up for Team Canada at a best-on-best, which is to say the Olympics (in a year when NHL players went), World Cup, Canada Cup or Summit Series. The only exception is that this time we won’t count the mostly forgotten 1974 Summit Series, since that was WHA players and would make this too easy. Goalies have to have been on the roster (including backups or third strings), while skaters need to have actually seen the ice for at least one game. Simple enough.

One caveat: A lot of this is going to feel like we’re knocking these players, and I hope it doesn’t come across that way. A typical Team Canada will feature some of the very best players in the world, and being a “bad” player on a roster like that is still pretty impressive. The idea here isn’t to say that these guys weren’t great players in their own right, since almost all of them were. But the bar was set pretty high by last week’s snub team, so let’s see what we wind up with here.


We’ve got a few solid options here, and we don’t even have to pick on Pete Peeters (who actually won a Vezina two years after his 1981 meltdown against the Soviets). I considered Jose Theodore, who didn’t have a long stay on top but was a few years removed from an MVP season when he was Canada’s third string at the 2004 World Cup, as well as Reggie Lemelin, who’d had back-to-back years as a Vezina finalist when he made the 1984 Canada Cup team.

Instead, I’m going to go with a couple of cap-era guys who personify solid starters without ever radiating too much star power. Give me Marty Turco, who was the third option for the 2006 Olympic team, leading to this classic “always lead with the local angle” headline from Sault Ste. Marie.

We’ll back him up with Mike Smith, who rolled out of the sack to earn a spot at the 2014 Olympics. Neither Smith or Turco actually got to play in the tournament, but that just means they’ll be well-rested when we turn to them.

They might need to be, because our blueline is going to be… interesting.

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