Was Martin St. Louis the right choice?
The Steven Stamkos Olympic watch is finally over. Martin St. Louis has been chosen to fill in for the injured sniper as Team Canada prepares for the Sochi Winter Olympic hockey tournament. Okay, Canadian hockey fans, we can all stop obsessing about the status of Stamkos’s broken leg and start preparing to cheer for the team as it heads to Sochi.
Judging by the Twitter reaction (Martin St. Louis was trending, of course), the addition of 38-year-old to the Olympic squad was certainly popular with fans, who have long felt that smallish, heart-and-soul type right winger deserved to be on the team. Conversely, the move has some experts grumbling that emotions got in the way of this decision and that better players should have been considered for the empty roster spot.
Let’s take a look at the stats:
When it comes to production, St. Louis’ statistics certainly hold up against the other candidates. However, at 38, he’s no longer as fast as he once was, leaving pundits questioning whether younger, more traditional snipers like Neal or Staal would have been better choices to fill the gap left by Stamkos.
In terms of leadership, St. Louis was probably the best choice. And despite the fact he’s undersized, Olympic hockey lacks the grinding physical play common in the NHL. As captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he’s been a great leader and has a proven record as a top-notch playoff performer. He’s also one very hungry player, anxious to prove his critics wrong.
So was it a wise decision? Personally, I would have leaned toward Joe Thornton or Claude Giroux. Both players excel at the international game and bring a skill-set that St. Louis just can’t match. However, when it comes to picking Team Canada, there’s really an embarrassment of riches. Our side is so stacked with talent, it probably doesn’t matter who replaces Stamkos.
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