The Maple Leaf
Olympic fever is starting to kick in this week as Canada and the US kicked off their preliminary camps, offering fans their first glimpses of line combinations and roster speculation and those players on the bubble their first chance to make an impression on the brass.
For the Canucks, most of those representing their countries are virtual locks.
With the way Mike Babcock’s talking, it should be very surprising for Roberto Luongo to not find himself on the roster. Ryan Kesler, meanwhile, was the heart and soul of the 2010 American team.
As long as he’s not hurt, he’ll be there.
Then there’s Dan Hamhuis. He, along with Alex Burrows, are the representation of those Canadian talents that would find their way to Sochi with any other passport but instead find themselves buried by Canada’s amazing depth.
Burrows couldn’t even find his way to Team Canada’s ball hockey orientation camp despite famously cutting his teeth on ball hockey back at the start of his career.
Hamhuis, though, is getting a chance, paired at times with the Norris champion PK Subban. Strictly speaking, Hamhuis is not one of the top eight Canadian talents on the blueline, but his advantage lies in the fact that he plays the left side naturally and can complement defensively some of the higher-profile offensive talent.
Olympic fever is starting to kick in this week as Canada
There’s still a half season of hockey to play, neverminding some Team Canada practicing that involves actual ice, but Hamhuis will be part of the conversation.
At the very least, it’ll add something extra to the first half of the season as various blueliners’ stock rise and fall or get injured entirely.
Ray Ferraro believes he can do it, and so does Jason Botchford.
There’s a lot to be said for taking a mistake-free rock like Hamhuis in a short tournament halfway around the world on an ice surface different than the comfortable confines of an NHL rink.
Ask Roberto Luongo himself what taking Dan Hamhuis off his blueline did during the 2011 finals.
There will be flashier choices sure, but few as reliable.
Hamhuis, for his part, will have to go out and play his game come October and hope that a few breaks go his way. Hope that Torterella and Luongo walk the walk after talking the talk, and hope that some other rivals like Dion Phaneuf or Jay Bouwmeester fail to seize their opportunities.
Whatever happens, it’s another big question for what should be a fascinating season of Canucks hockey.
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