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Remembering Canada at the 98 Nagano Olympics

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11-29-2011, 02:04 PM
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IggyFan12
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Remembering Canada at the 98 Nagano Olympics

The Nagano Olympics have always interested me as I don't remember alot from this tourny...This may be a painful memory for most Canadians but it was a very important tournament in the History of Hockey. It was the first time ever that NHL players were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Everyone thought that Canada would come home with the Gold no problem but this team had problems from the start. Mario Lemieux had retired in the 96/97 season or he would have been on the team no question. Mark Messier was left off the team while Rob Zamuner was on the team. Eric Lindros was named team Captain ahead of players like Gretzky, Bourque, Yzerman and Sakic. Paul Kariya was cross checked in the face before the Olympics started which kept one of Canada's best forwards off the team. Sakic who had won the Con Smyth trophy in 96 was injured against Kazakhstan and missed the last 2 Canada games.

There was so much anticipation from the Canadian media for this event as it was the first time ever the best players would play for Olympic Gold. Canada was looking to avenge the 96 World Cup defeat at the hands to the Americas so GM Bob Clarke built his team on size instead of skill and speed.

The top 5 point producing Canadians from the 96/97 season to the 97/98 season were:

1) Gretzky-187
2) Francis- 177
3) Oates-158
4) Recchi-154
5) Yzerman-154

The top 5 goal scorers from that same time for Canadians were:

1) Shanahan- 75
2) Nieuwendyk- 69
3) Recchi- 66
4) Brind'Amour-63
5) Lindros- 62
......
9) Messier-58
25) Gretzky-48

Francis and Oates did not make the team. Nor did Messier.

Does anyone have the line combo's which were used for Crawford? I think Premeau, Fleury, Sakic were a line until Sakic got injured but I can't confirm.

I dont have a source but I did remember hearing the Crawford told Brodeur on the plane ride to Japan that Roy would be the starter for Canada.

Game 1) Canada crushes Belarus 5-0. I can not find a boxscore for this game-does anyone know where I can find out?

Game 2) Canada faces a strong test in the Swedes and cames out with a 3-2 victory. After trailing Sweden 1-0 after the first Canada came on strong to score 3 times in the 2nd (Nieuwendyk, Blake, MacInnis) and Canada hung on for the 3-2 victory.

Game 3) Many people were dubbing this a Gold Medal preview as Canada got past the USA 4-1. Primeau scored 2 goals and linemate Sakic added another. Zamuner also scored for Canada.

Game 4) Canada was able to defeat a pesky Kazakhstan team 4-1 to move on to the Semifinals. Shanahan, Yzerman, Corson and Nieuwendyk all scored for Canada. Canada was able to score on their first 2 shots but Kazakhstan outshot Canada in the first period 10-8.

Game 5) To most Canadians this is the only game they remember of the Tourny. Canada lost in the shoot-out to the Czechs 2-1. Linden scored with only 67 seconds left and if Canada had won Gold we would have changed our views on Linden and this would be one of the greatest moments in Canadian hockey history...but alas it was not meant to be. The Shooters in the Shootout were: (Canadian Goal Ranking for the 96-98 seasons in brackets) 1:Fleury (10), Bourque (64), Nieuwendyk (2), Lindros (5) and Shanahan (1). Players who many people wanted to shoot like: Yzerman (33) and Gretzky (25) were not the goal scoring machines they were previous. I have no issue with the players Crawford choose except for Bourque. I think Gretzky was more of a passer at that time and not the goal scoring machine he used to be. But he was still Gretzky and great players rise to the occasion. Maybe Wayne would have scored but I sure wish he at least tried.

Game 6) Finland won the Bronze medal game 3-2 against a shocked team Canada. Brind'Amour and Shanahan both scored for Canada but it was not enough as Canada went home with out even a medal.

It seems to me this team never really came together. There were alot of controversy surrounding this team from the start and the pressure on this team was insane.

One thing I can say about this team is on paper it probably has one of the greatest Defenses of all time. Bourque, Stevens, MccInnis, Pronger, Blake will all be in the Hall of Fame one day and Foote and Desjardins are great players as well. Also having Patrick Roy play for team Canada is such a rare event. Its very strange that the greatest Canadian goalie ever only represented Canada at this one tournament. If Roy had played for Canada more often maybe he would have been more use to International hockey? Roy played very very well for Canada however, posting a 1.46 G.A.A and a .935 SV%.

I want to try find out as much info as I can about Canada in Nagano at the Olympics. Does anyone have any articles or stories they remember about the team before, during or after the Olympics? Also does anyone disagree with the player selections and if so who would you have put in? and who would you take out? Remember the time as well. It was 98 so Lemiux was retired, and you have to remember how the players were playing at that time. Also if someone remembers the lines that would be great as well.


Last edited by IggyFan12: 11-29-2011 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Did not see Recchi on the team roster at first glance but noticed he did in fact make the team..Sorry
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11-29-2011, 02:54 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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This thread might be helpful: http://hfboards.com/showthread.php?p=23138051

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11-29-2011, 03:26 PM
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McGuillicuddy
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Ugh. Do we have to talk about this? I'd prefer to pretend it never happened.

Never happened.

.

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11-29-2011, 03:32 PM
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Some random thoughts I remember from that tournament:

* I don't recall the lines, but I remember Zamuner playing on Gretzky's wing. That was odd, because there was a lot of talk pre-tournament about Clarke wanting to follow the, 'ghost roster' formula used by Team Canada at the World Juniors. Essentially, for a number of years, Canada had a WJC roster planned in advance and simply selected players who best matched the available roles, not necessarily the best players. The first two lines were scoring lines, the third was a checking unit, the fourth was a grinding/enery role. That's how Corson, Zamuner and Linden ended up on that team, and it was assumed that they would be playing regularly as a unit. Instead, Crawford sprinkled them throughout the lineup.

* Speaking of Corson, he was so far off the map when the selection process started, it wasn't even funny. But he had a huge start to the 1997 season, and played his way on. I've never seen a player come further out of left field and make a Team Canada before.

* Its easy to look back at the selection of players like Zamuner and Corson, and say, 'what were they thinking?'. But hindsight is 20/20 and its important to remember the thinking at the time. Canada had just been beaten by a big, strong, hard-working and physical US World Cup squad. There was a feeling that the old-guard of Edmonton Oiler alumni was no longer willing to dig down deep enough against a team like that, and were perhaps too entitled. There was a sentiment that Canada need to move on, and turn the reins over to a new guard. In addition to leaving previous stalwarts like Messier and Coffey off the team, there was a strong sentiment that 99 would be on the sidelines as well (Francis and Oates also got swept up in the old guard concept). I recall Gretzky playing in front of the Team Canada scouting staff in Vancouver a few weeks before the roster was announced, and putting up a hat-trick. I always admired Gretzky for that. At that point in his career, he could well have said, 'After all I've done for you, you don't want me on the team? Fine'. But he didn't. He played his way on, and was pretty good, too.

Anyway, it was that 'new guard' sentiment that also led to the adding of a Zamuner. It was felt that a gritty, hard-working, 'glad to be here' player would make for a more blue-collar, hard-working team. Didn't work out that way, and Canada abandoned that idea afterwards (unless you count guys like Draper and Maltby but I think we can all agree they are in a different category).

* There was also a feeling that this was Eric Lindros' time. Gretzky and Messier were aging, Mario was retired. . . this was the start of the Big E era, and alot of people felt that this was the stage where he took over as hockey's dominant player. I remember Bob Clarke announcing Lindros as the team captain and saying, 'Lindros is the horse we intend to ride to Gold'. I don't recall a lot of people objecting to that at the time.

* Also, I disagree with the idea that Canada was expected to easily win. There was a lot of trepidation in the Canadian hockey pysche at the time. We had just lost the World Cup. Europeans were more dominant than ever. We didn't have a single defenseman as dominant as the Leetch-Chelios pairing that killed us in 1996. Playing on the big ice was new. I recall a sense that this was a good team, an expectation of winning gold. . . but more than a little fear, too.

* Eric Lindros' first shift against Belarus was one of the single best shifts I've ever seen. I know it was only Belarus, but he completely cowed that team with his physical play.

* I can give you a source for how Roy got the starting job: Brodeur tells that exact story in his biography. Essentially, Roy would only agree to play if he was guaranteed to start, so that's what they did. In fairness, Roy held up his end of the bargain and played spectacular hockey. He didn't see as many shots as Hasek in the Czech game, but was every bit as good. Obviously, though, Gretzky must have had a problem with the whole set-up, because he left Roy off the 2002 team all together.

* Speaking of Roy, one thing I will always remember from the Czech shootout: Roy was only beaten by one shooter (Robert Reichel) who hit the post and had the puck slide past the line. At the other end, Hasek stopped everyone except Lindros who beat him on a backhand that he rung off the post. Hockey Gods, man.

* Playing Bourque in the shootout was strange then and has only gotten stranger with time.

* At the end of the day, I think that team lacked pure scoring ability (that whole generation of Canadians did, really), underestimated how different playing on international ice would be, and never saw anyone 'step up' to be the hero. You could tell that Lindros wanted to do that, but his scoring never got on track. Its funny, the 2010 Canadian Team reminded me of 1996: lot of players playing well, but no one taking the lead to be The Man. If the US had scored in OT in 2010, I think we'd remember that team the same way: deep, hard-working, not enough goal-scoring. Crosby was really no better in 2010 than Lindros was in 1996. He just happened to get that one last goal.

The other teams. . .

* The Americans went in as co-favorites (or maybe slightly second behind Canada) after the World Cup. Although they had much the same roster, they just couldn't ever seem to get rolling and, of course, it ended with the busted up hotel room affiar. I remember Chelios being interviewed on CBC after they had been eliminated and saying, 'I'm cheering for Canada now, I have a lot of friends on that team'. Always thought that was cool.

* Bure was probably the best player in the tournament, after Hasek.

* Koivu-Selanne were dynamite.

* The Czechs don't get enough credit for the team they had. Yes, Hasek was all-world but they eliminated the US, Canada and Russia. Wow. They had some talented palyers who understood big-ice hockey, and were completely commited to their system.

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11-29-2011, 03:41 PM
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McGuillicuddy
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Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
* Speaking of Roy, one thing I will always remember from the Czech shootout: Roy was only beaten by one shooter (Robert Reichel) who hit the post and had the puck slide past the line. At the other end, Hasek stopped everyone except Lindros who beat him on a backhand that he rung off the post. Hockey Gods, man.
That is a very good point. Roy doesn't get credit for going toe-to-toe with Hasek and playing just as well. The main difference in the end, as you say, is those fractions of an inch that meant Lindros' shot bounces out and Reichel's bounces in.

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11-29-2011, 03:44 PM
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Good recap Reynard, but one small correction:

The Czech republic actually outshot Canada in the famous game, 29-25. Here's the box score: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/oly..._republic.html

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11-29-2011, 05:20 PM
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IggyFan12
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Very good summary Reynard. I found alot of the information very useful. This tournament is filled with more "what ifs" than any other in history for Canada...What if Kariya, and Sakic don't get injured. What if Mario didnt retire..What if Gretzky shot in the shootout..What if there were no shoot-outs...

I know alot of people look back at Nagano as a disaster but in Team Canada learned alot from this experience and learned from it.

One question I have is why wasn't Scotty Bowman the coach? Did he not want to?

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11-29-2011, 05:51 PM
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The biggest what-if in Team Canada history is the 72 Summit Series. Had injuries and the WHA not existed, we could have had the winning team with the addition of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th best players ever. Orr, Howe and Hull. >_>

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11-29-2011, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
* Speaking of Roy, one thing I will always remember from the Czech shootout: Roy was only beaten by one shooter (Robert Reichel) who hit the post and had the puck slide past the line. At the other end, Hasek stopped everyone except Lindros who beat him on a backhand that he rung off the post. Hockey Gods, man.

The Czechs got 2 past Roy in the shootout. Reichel (goal) and Jagr clanked one off the post.

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11-29-2011, 07:17 PM
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Obviously, though, Gretzky must have had a problem with the whole set-up, because he left Roy off the 2002 team all together.
I do not remember that, I was thinking that Roy did not want to go to Nagano, I remember commentator saying that because of Roy fault we have the Cujo Vs Brodeur debate.

Messier not on the team was the biggest story I think, I always tough that Primeau and Corson instead of Messier was somewhat of an error, because Messier was good against Hasek in the shootout in all stars game.

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11-29-2011, 07:32 PM
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Ugh this whole tourney was lame. Plus Sakic got his calf lacerated (i think) and missed like 35 something games for the Avs. Wasnt this also the year Kariya got drilled by Suter. He was just killin' it at the time and then BAM! was never the same after that. Still good, but he was on another world before that. The only interesting thing I remember from this was the US hotel fiasco. That was funny.

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11-29-2011, 08:25 PM
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a few memories:

- the US hotel fiasco, the origin of the nickname "jeremy redneck."

- messier being left off the team and linden making it made a very tense situation in mike keenan's dressing room even worse. i think the announcement was in mid-to-late january. linden was traded in february. i remember after the announcement, keenan said in the newspapers something like, "good for him. should have taken mark, complete travesty, but good for him." he didn't outright say linden didn't deserve to be there, but it was heavily implied.

- corson was one of those gritty team canada favourites that they always seem to bring along to tournaments, not unlike shane doan or ryan smyth. i guess when you play for the oilers and kevin lowe makes you go to the WC every year when you don't make the playoffs, that gives you a second or third look from the team canada brass. corson was on the 1991 canada cup team as well, though granted that was only one year removed from his career 30 goal, 75 point season when it still looked like he would develop into a mike richards-type player instead of the more ryan callahan-type guy he really was.

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11-29-2011, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
I can give you a source for how Roy got the starting job: Brodeur tells that exact story in his biography. Essentially, Roy would only agree to play if he was guaranteed to start, so that's what they did. In fairness, Roy held up his end of the bargain and played spectacular hockey. He didn't see as many shots as Hasek in the Czech game, but was every bit as good. Obviously, though, Gretzky must have had a problem with the whole set-up, because he left Roy off the 2002 team all together.
Three issues:

1. According to Roy, it was Marc Crawford's decision to start Roy in every game (Roy's biography).

2. Roy saw more shots in the Czech game than Hasek.

3. Gretzky didn't leave Roy off the roster; Roy declined to go to the Salt Lake City Olympics.

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11-29-2011, 09:11 PM
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The game against the Czech Republic scarred me as a child.

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11-29-2011, 10:01 PM
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I remember there being a big thing about how Canada did not practice the shootout much... Don't know if it was just some media reaction to the Czech loss or actual truth. Knowing what I know about shootouts now, I personally have no problem with leaving Gretzky out or having Bourque in theoretically, but I would like to know how much preparation we had for the shootout and whether the shootout selections were a reflection of that.

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11-29-2011, 10:29 PM
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Actually what I remember most is the post-Nagano fallout. The European media had a field day trashing "North American hockey" but that was to be expected.

There was a small segement of the Canadian media that was somewhat gleeful that Canada lost. "Canadians have no skill" was a common theme for the next 4 years. Then there was the hockey summit called the fix our game.

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11-29-2011, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by quoipourquoi View Post
Gretzky didn't leave Roy off the roster; Roy declined to go to the Salt Lake City Olympics.
Correct, I remember Roy explaining that he wanted to rest to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and then getting lit up in one game and getting razzed that he skipped the Olympics and got lit up like he did.

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11-29-2011, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
a few memories:

- the US hotel fiasco, the origin of the nickname "jeremy redneck."

- messier being left off the team and linden making it made a very tense situation in mike keenan's dressing room even worse. i think the announcement was in mid-to-late january. linden was traded in february. i remember after the announcement, keenan said in the newspapers something like, "good for him. should have taken mark, complete travesty, but good for him." he didn't outright say linden didn't deserve to be there, but it was heavily implied.

- corson was one of those gritty team canada favourites that they always seem to bring along to tournaments, not unlike shane doan or ryan smyth. i guess when you play for the oilers and kevin lowe makes you go to the WC every year when you don't make the playoffs, that gives you a second or third look from the team canada brass. corson was on the 1991 canada cup team as well, though granted that was only one year removed from his career 30 goal, 75 point season when it still looked like he would develop into a mike richards-type player instead of the more ryan callahan-type guy he really was.
In regards to Linden-Messier:

The Olympics started February 7. Keenan traded Linden on the 6th. Linden didn't even have a chance to go to New York until after the Olympics. I have to believe that this was just the final blow by Keenan, one last humiliation. Seriously, trade the guy who's going to board a flight to Japan the next day?

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11-30-2011, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by NegroSunshine View Post
Ugh this whole tourney was lame.
It was not. It was by far the most exciting hockey I have seen. The big six teams were all competitive. U.S.A and Sweden had really great rosters, both capable of winning it all.

We didn't know at the time, but in 1998 The Czechs started their few years of dominating international ice. And they had Jagr and Hasek. It shouldn't surprise they won it all, although it did.

Russia had Pavel Bure. He killed my team and yet I had to appreciate it. I have never been more afraid watching hockey than in Nagano semifinals when Pavel Bure was on ice.

Finally about the team that's so dear to me: Team Finland played great hockey in 2006 and could have won, but I just loved the 1998 squad.

Selänne-Koivu-Lehtinen line was out of this world. This is bold statement, but I wouldn't had traded those three guys for any other players.

This was rare occasion when the best players of Finland were greater than the best players of Canada. Usually Finland has thrived because of good defensive systems and working hard, but at that time we had some magic going for us.

Before you laugh, it was not the Saku Koivu you remember, this was the best centerman in the world at the time. On international ice anyways. Man he was good! Selänne was on his prime and that Lehtinen guy was not bad at all. Plus we still had Kurri and Tikkanen. And Raimo Helminen!

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11-30-2011, 02:29 PM
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NOTENOUGHBREWER
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Correct, I remember Roy explaining that he wanted to rest to be ready for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and then getting lit up in one game and getting razzed that he skipped the Olympics and got lit up like he did.
I might have the timeline wrong but Canada named the first 6 or 8 players to their roster and had the super obvious guys like Sakic, Lemieux, etc. But they didn't name a goalie to that list and that's when Roy bowed out.

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11-30-2011, 03:12 PM
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Painful time for Canada, but it caused us to finally figure out what we were doing wrong in our game and rectify it accordingly

We really should have done this 20 years prior to Nagano '98

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11-30-2011, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by NOTENOUGHBREWER View Post
I might have the timeline wrong but Canada named the first 6 or 8 players to their roster and had the super obvious guys like Sakic, Lemieux, etc. But they didn't name a goalie to that list and that's when Roy bowed out.
That was in 2002 I believe - the actual announcement of the "first 8" occurred in December 2001. And yes, Roy was conspicuous by his absence in the first 8. They did the same in Dec. 2005.

For the '98 Olympics they announced the entire roster roster in one shot around Christmas-time '97 IIRC. I do remember the utter shock when Zamuner's name was announced...

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11-30-2011, 03:26 PM
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That was in 2002 I believe - the actual announcement of the "first 8" occurred in December 2001. And yes, Roy was conspicuous by his absence in the first 8. They did the same in Dec. 2005.
It was a bit earlier than that. Roy dropped out of the running in November 2001, but the first eight names were announced in March 2001.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hoc...nada_olympics/
http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.php...=10530&la_id=1

There was a whole 7 months in-between the initial selections and Roy's decision not to go. This really doesn't strike me as being a factor, and given his quality of play between April 2001 and November 2001, there's little doubt that he would've started above Curtis Joseph and Martin Brodeur.

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11-30-2011, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by quoipourquoi View Post
It was a bit earlier than that. Roy dropped out of the running in November 2001, but the first eight names were announced in March 2001.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hoc...nada_olympics/
http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.php...=10530&la_id=1

There was a whole 7 months in-between the initial selections and Roy's decision not to go. This really doesn't strike me as being a factor, and given his quality of play between April 2001 and November 2001, there's little doubt that he would've started above Curtis Joseph and Martin Brodeur.
Holy jeez, that's early, but that rings a bell now that you mention it. I guess that's why that Owen Nolan as one of the initial 8, as he was in the midst of a very strong '01 season.

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11-30-2011, 04:11 PM
  #25
the edler
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the canadian and us fans should never have expected the canadian and us teams to simply roll by the european teams, especially not on big ice, the european teams were and are too good for that

hasek, bure, koivu and selänne were all dynamite

and messier wouldn't have made any difference, this was 98 not 88

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