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Gretzky: Yzerman put together a good team for Sochi

TSN.ca Staff

1/8/2014 2:46:11 PM

While the rest of the hockey world continues to debate Hockey Canada's selections and omissions for the men's team going to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, executive director Steve Yzerman's roster has already earned a big thumbs up from The Great One.

"I really think he put together a good team," Wayne Gretzky told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun on ESPN.com. "He's got skill, he's got size, he's got depth, he's got a good coaching staff, and they've done all their homework. They've done everything they can do. Now it's up to the players to play at the level that they need to play at to bring back the gold medal."

Gretzky is no stranger to building teams for the Olympics, as he helped select the 2002 and 2006 Canadian teams. The 2002 squad snapped Canada's 50-year gold medal drought at the Olympics in Salt Lake City, while the 2006 team finished off the podium in Torino.

The team selection is always a controversial process, with fans and pundits naturally second-guessing the picks once they're announced.

"My son, who is 21, who doesn't follow hockey all that much, was showing me the second team that Canada could have put together, which would have been pretty good," Gretzky told LeBrun. "So, even kids down here are talking about it."

Gretzky added that Yzerman, who also led the selection committee for Canada's gold-medal winning team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, did a good job of avoiding any real obvious controversy with most of their choices.

"There was really no controversy on the three goalies," he told LeBrun. "Those are the three guys and with the ability to have eight defensemen instead of seven, there really wasn't any talk about so and so was left off."

There's one difficult task that Gretzky never had to endure - wear an NHL GM's hat at the same time and tell his own player that he didn't make the team. That's something that Yzerman had to do with his Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis on Tuesday morning.

"I've always said that it's an easy hard job," said Gretzky. "It's easy because you're picking from 50 really good players, so you've got an easy task in terms of having a good team. But it's a hard task in getting down to those final few picks; that's what really makes it difficult. It's never fun. It won't be controversial if they win, but as always, it'll be controversial if they lose."