On Tuesday morning, Steve Yzerman, Mike Babcock and the rest of Team Canada's management unveiled the names of the 25 men who will wear the Maple Leaf next month in Sochi as Canada looks to defend its Olympic gold medal.
The roster is comprised of Stanley Cup champions, World Junior champions, numerous winners of individual NHL awards and eleven returning members of the team that struck gold in Vancouver in 2010. The resumes of these 25 players speak for themselves, but that doesn't mean that these selections come with universal acclaim. Many very deserving candidates will be watching the Games at home with the rest of Canada after being left off the final roster.
So with armchair general managers from Victoria to Charlottetown dissecting the list of those going to Russia and those staying put, who do you think was the biggest snub for Team Canada?
Starting in net, a pair of incumbents from the 2010 gold medal-winning team didn't receive the call. Now 41 and with his career winding down, it doesn't really come as a surprise that Martin Brodeur won't be heading to Sochi, but what about Marc-Andre Fleury?
The Penguins goalie leads the league with 24 wins and holds a 2.23 GAA which is level with that of Roberto Luongo's and higher than both of Mike Smith's and Carey Price's marks. Yes, Fleury has won a Stanley Cup, but did his reputation for floundering in big games negate his chances of once again wearing a Team Canada sweater?
Montreal native Corey Crawford is coming off a Stanley Cup championship with the Chicago Blackhawks and, though having missed 10 games due to injury, is once again putting up stellar numbers for a team also looking to repeat. Is Crawford's success viewed as a byproduct of the stellar team in front of him?
What about Josh Harding? Arguably, the most inspirational story of the year in the NHL, the 29-year-old has emerged as Minnesota's unquestioned starting goalie for the first time in his eight-year NHL career and completely run with the ball, all the while undergoing treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. Harding leads the league with a miniscule 1.33 GAA, has a .933 save percentage (third in the NHL,) three shutouts and 18 wins.
Moving to the blue line, turnover was expected with two stalwarts in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger no longer playing, but Brent Seabrook, another member of the Vancouver 2010 squad, finds himself on the outside looking in.
Seabrook is top-five in scoring among defencemen, is joint league-leader in plus/minus and plays over 21 minutes a night for the Blackhawks alongside Duncan Keith, who is headed to Sochi. With Babcock pushing for an eight-man defensive corps made up of four right and four left defencemen, Seabrook found himself behind the likes of Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Weber, and P.K. Subban on the right-sided depth chart. Still, is it wise to look past Seabrook's past Olympic success and the fact that his partnership with Keith, the blueliner likely to log the most minutes for Canada, is arguably the NHL's most steady?
How much of a factor were injuries in the overlooking of Marc Staal of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins D-man Kris Letang?
Two more defencemen who toil for Canadian teams who play heavy minutes also didn't receive the call, Toronto's Dion Phaneuf and Mark Giordano of the Flames.
Are there any more blueliners who you would have liked to see head to Russia?
The debate about Canada's forward contingent will likely be the most hotly contested with several significant names not getting picked for duty.
For starters, the NHL's assist leader isn't going to Sochi. A member of the 2006 and 2010 Canadian Olympic teams, Joe Thornton (43 assists) was not named on Tuesday morning. Martin St. Louis is leading the Tampa Bay Lightning with 17 goals and 21 assists while Claude Giroux tops the Flyers squad with 12 goals and 26 assists. Eric Staal is his usual reliable self with the Carolina Hurricanes with 35 points in 42 games.
Who else deserved to be named to the Olympic team and didn't?
And as always, it's Your! Call.