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The 1998 Canadian Olympic team

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Old
03-24-2007, 01:33 AM
  #1
Randall Graves*
 
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The 1998 Canadian Olympic team

What was Bobby Clarkes thought process when he put this group together?

They were loaded at center with Gretzky, Yzerman, Sakic, and Lindros, but why did they put so many other centers on the roster such as...Linden, Primeau, Nieuwendyk and Brind'Amour? With Mark Messier being a noteable omission, that's 8 natural centers, and of the wingers you could say about 3 were upper echelon at the time..Kariya, Shanahan, and Fluery. Were there just not that many top Canadian wingers at the time to take that many centers?

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03-24-2007, 06:20 AM
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I think it had something to do with the way that the 1996 World Cup of Hockey ended, at least the play with the faceoff with only the one center on the ice leading to an American goal. That being said the team wasn't as bad as the out of the medals result would indicate, they got beat by Hasek in the Semi-finals and well that seemed to really deflate the team as a whole resulting in a loss to the fins a couple days later.

The team really just ran into Hasek, who if memory serves me correct was pretty much the only reason that the Czech team won in both the Semis and the Finals.

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03-24-2007, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lone Elvi View Post
I think it had something to do with the way that the 1996 World Cup of Hockey ended, at least the play with the faceoff with only the one center on the ice leading to an American goal. That being said the team wasn't as bad as the out of the medals result would indicate, they got beat by Hasek in the Semi-finals and well that seemed to really deflate the team as a whole resulting in a loss to the fins a couple days later.

The team really just ran into Hasek, who if memory serves me correct was pretty much the only reason that the Czech team won in both the Semis and the Finals.
It's 'Finns'

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03-24-2007, 08:15 AM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RallyKiller View Post
What was Bobby Clarkes thought process when he put this group together?

They were loaded at center with Gretzky, Yzerman, Sakic, and Lindros, but why did they put so many other centers on the roster such as...Linden, Primeau, Nieuwendyk and Brind'Amour? With Mark Messier being a noteable omission, that's 8 natural centers, and of the wingers you could say about 3 were upper echelon at the time..Kariya, Shanahan, and Fluery. Were there just not that many top Canadian wingers at the time to take that many centers?
If you look at the tournament as a whole, the 1998 team played better than the 2002 team. 1998 happened to run into Hasek, who was playing the best stretch of hockey that any goalie in history played.

Brind'amour also played LW quite a bit, Linden and Primeau also have played wing at times during their careers.

Also picking a number of centers wasn't unusual:

1987 Canada Cup roster:

Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Sutter, Hawerchuk, and Gilmour

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03-24-2007, 08:35 AM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lone Elvi View Post
The team really just ran into Hasek, who if memory serves me correct was pretty much the only reason that the Czech team won in both the Semis and the Finals.
I've posted it in another thread in the history section, but still: I've watched the
semifinal game many times and can honestly tell you the Czechs were outplaying
Canada for the 50 minutes into the game (until Šlégr's leading goal) and in the
entire match, Canada had one or two scoring chances. On the other hand, Roy
was incredible and he was the main reason the Canadians made it to the shootout.
Roy was much more important for Canada than Hašek for the Czech Republic (apart
from the shootouts) in this game.
As for the finals, it's similar. Russia had only a few chances, mainly in the first period.
The Czechs outplayed the Russians and should've won more than 1-0.
In the whole tournament, Hašek was great against the U.S. and in the shootouts.
People often claim Czechs were a mediocre team that wouldn't be able to win a single game against a top team without Hašek, but I consider this an urban legend.
They outplayed with their smart overall game pretty much everyone in the tournament.
On the topic, I think Canada had too many big, tough players, while physical play
is not such a factor in the Olympics. It seems like they've changed this attitude
in recent years as they've been calling up more skilled players to the national team.
That said, they were definitely missing (then injured) Sakic and Kariya in Nagano.
Too bad Crawford didn't decide to pick Gretzky in the shootouts - Gretzky vs. Hašek...

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03-24-2007, 09:44 AM
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The '98 team right from the beginning was missing a few guys. Kariya would have made a big difference on theopen ice. A '98 Kariya was better than a '02 Kariya. But Gary Suter changed that before he even got to play. Plus Sakic was injured in the Kazakstan game meaning he didnt play the rest of the tournament. For some reason that i cannot understand Scott Niedermayer was not picked for this team. That is something a lot of people forget. Why he wasnt picked with his speed on the bi ice is a mystery to me. Messier I didnt mind so much bur Desjardins over Niedermayer? Wow.

Dont get me wrong this team was probably good enough to win. But they never really had a huge game where they annihilated the competition.
Here are their games.
Can/Belarus - 5-0
Can/Swe - 3-2
Can/USA - 4-1
Can/Kaz 4-1 (quarterfinals)
Can/Czech 1-2 (semis)
Can/Fin 2-3 (bronze medal game)

Even in the Kazakstan game they were only winning 2-1 until the end of the 2nd period when they got two goals. In that game when it was 2-1 Canada Kazakstan actually scored a goal from the blueline only to have it be offside before it when in. I was never impressed with this team right from the get to. Sure the '02 team had a bad first game but they never lost after that and from the Czech game on they looked unstoppable. In '98 Canada was outplayed by the US. In '02 Canada clearly outplayed and beat the US the next best team 5-2.

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03-24-2007, 12:55 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rexor View Post
I've posted it in another thread in the history section, but still: I've watched the
semifinal game many times and can honestly tell you the Czechs were outplaying
Canada for the 50 minutes into the game (until Šlégr's leading goal) and in the
entire match, Canada had one or two scoring chances. On the other hand, Roy
was incredible and he was the main reason the Canadians made it to the shootout.
Roy was much more important for Canada than Hašek for the Czech Republic (apart
from the shootouts) in this game.
As for the finals, it's similar. Russia had only a few chances, mainly in the first period.
The Czechs outplayed the Russians and should've won more than 1-0.
In the whole tournament, Hašek was great against the U.S. and in the shootouts.
People often claim Czechs were a mediocre team that wouldn't be able to win a single game against a top team without Hašek, but I consider this an urban legend.
They outplayed with their smart overall game pretty much everyone in the tournament.
On the topic, I think Canada had too many big, tough players, while physical play
is not such a factor in the Olympics. It seems like they've changed this attitude
in recent years as they've been calling up more skilled players to the national team.
That said, they were definitely missing (then injured) Sakic and Kariya in Nagano.
Too bad Crawford didn't decide to pick Gretzky in the shootouts - Gretzky vs. Hašek...
I have'nt watched it 500 times like you but i thought that game was pretty much dead even for 50 minutes.Both sides were'nt getting many chances to score and were playing it so tight to the vest defensively it was like watching who could strangle the game more effectively.The Czechs just trapped the living hell out of the game and wanted to put the game into haseks hands(good strategy),they would pretty much only go on the offense if a glaring misake was made by a Canadian player and we were'nt much more daring if at all. It would have been nice to have had our two best offensive players there (kariya and sakic) to make a difference.It's a game i'd love to have back with our top gunners playing as i think we could have have won it.The competition is just too good these days not to have your best players on hand especially when you are going up against a defensive orientated team who just wants to keep it close with hasek in nets in his prime.

Kudos for the win as you earned it but that game was pretty damn even and the way it ended pretty much shows that.

I'd love to play that one again,i'm convinced with all hands on deck we could have pulled it out.

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03-24-2007, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rexor View Post
Too bad Crawford didn't decide to pick Gretzky in the shootouts - Gretzky vs. Hašek...
Even better, if he was not retired at the time, would have been Lemieux versus Hasek in Nagano. Lemieux scored a lot more on breakaways than Gretzky and Hasek was the master at stopping them.

I believe they only faced once and that was in an All-Star game skill competition in the early 2000's. Lemieux scored with a perfect shot to the far top corner when Hasek was the first one to blink, notable since both players were known for their extreme patience. Of course, whose to say what would happen if they faced off in a high pressure situation.

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03-24-2007, 02:07 PM
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Even better, if he was not retired at the time, would have been Lemieux versus Hasek in Nagano. Lemieux scored a lot more on breakaways than Gretzky and Hasek was the master at stopping them.

I believe they only faced once and that was in an All-Star game skill competition in the early 2000's. Lemieux scored with a perfect shot to the far top corner when Hasek was the first one to blink, notable since both players were known for their extreme patience. Of course, whose to say what would happen if they faced off in a high pressure situation.
Mario had two breakaways in 02' Olympics in the game against CZE. Two breakaways that resulted into... ehm, two goals. (Not typical shootout situations if I remember correctly, but still...)
The second goal was a strange one, though.
As for the Nagano game, yes, it wasn't like the Czechs had some 30 scoring chances; I would say it was some 10-15 quite dangerous situations around Roy's net, and about 5-7 ones around Hašek. The Canadians were definitely the better side after the Šlégr's goal.


Last edited by Rexor: 03-24-2007 at 02:12 PM.
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Old
03-24-2007, 02:50 PM
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For some reason that i cannot understand Scott Niedermayer was not picked for this team. That is something a lot of people forget. Why he wasnt picked with his speed on the bi ice is a mystery to me. Messier I didnt mind so much bur Desjardins over Niedermayer? Wow.
Remember, Niedermayer was still fairly young at the time. He was certainly not the player that he would become. Desjardins was in the prime of his career and one of the better defensemen in the league. The Messier snub was much more glaring, considering guys like Shayne Corson and Rob Zamuner were on the team. They were both LW and Messier was a center, but come on. That was Bobby Clarke letting his personal feelings get in the way.

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03-24-2007, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Kyle McMahon View Post
Remember, Niedermayer was still fairly young at the time. He was certainly not the player that he would become. Desjardins was in the prime of his career and one of the better defensemen in the league. The Messier snub was much more glaring, considering guys like Shayne Corson and Rob Zamuner were on the team. They were both LW and Messier was a center, but come on. That was Bobby Clarke letting his personal feelings get in the way.
That's possible, I mean...ROB ZAMUNER? over Mark Messier? what a joke!

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03-25-2007, 12:09 AM
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Canada was definitely lacking on the wings circa 1998. Our best guys at that time were at centre. And that's the way it's been for much of the last 30 years. Canada has never had a problem producing skilled, talented, offensive centres. But we have often had a problem churning out goal-scoring wingers. I think part of the problem is the fact that so many kids coming up playing centre. Even in recent times, guys like Tanguay and Gagne were drafted as centres.

I'll say that we were outplayed for the first 55 minutes versus the Czechs. The Czechs shut us down big-time. We didn't have an answer. Most people remember the final five minutes of regulation and the OT, and talk about how Canada dominated, but we were befuddled in the first 55 minutes.

As for the comparison vs. 2002. While it's true that the Canadian Olympic team in 2002 struggled in the first four games, they peaked at the right time. In the last six best-on-best tournaments (1998, 2002 and 2006 Olympics and 1991, 1996 and 2004 World Cup) I have never seen a Canadian team play as well as they did against the Americans in the gold medal game. Everyone did their job. The scorers scored. The defensive forwards checked. The physical players hit. The defencemen were great. Brodeur made the big saves when needed. We challenged the soft U.S. defence and they couldn't respond. Canada ran into a hot goalie in that game, and still won 5-2.

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03-25-2007, 12:11 AM
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That's possible, I mean...ROB ZAMUNER? over Mark Messier? what a joke!
Messier wasn't playing well enough to be on Canada that year. He was terrible in 1997-98.

Zaumner was a mistake. So was Corson. Corson was there because of his start, and Hockey Canada always had a man-crush on him. Solid power forward, but there were better candidates. Zaumner shouldn't have been there, but the guy to take his place should have been Mike Peca.

The selection process in 1998, with Clarke making all the decisions (followed by the problems when Sather made all the calls in 1996) was the reasoning for the selection committee we see today.

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03-25-2007, 04:16 PM
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The selection process in 1998, with Clarke making all the decisions (followed by the problems when Sather made all the calls in 1996) was the reasoning for the selection committee we see today.
Yeah tell me about it. Here were the goalies in 1996: Ranford, Brodeur, Joseph. All three are good. but none were great at the time. Ranford's best years were behind him, Joseph's were coming right at him and Brodeur had a couple more years before he became a better goalie. Who was missing? A guy named Patrick Roy. He only did what........win the Cup that year? Belfour was another guy that was noticeably missing. Sure at the time he had a bad knack for being a choker (its true) but he was better than Joseph.

Other than that Sather didnt do that bad of a job. It wasnt his fault Lemieux, and Bourque decided to sit out. Kariya and MacInnis were injured as was Francis. Imagine those guys on that team? Wow.

'98 was just a bad time. Gretzky was a year away from retirement. Lemieux was out of the game at the time. Pronger wasnt QUITE Pronger yet. Thornton was a rookie, as was Marleau, and Lecavalier and Richards were both in their second year of juniors. It was a bad transition time I thought.

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03-25-2007, 05:55 PM
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We were really weak on the wings. I think Fleury and Shanahan carried most of the load while we had 5 on 6 centers. It was an imbalance of depth.

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03-25-2007, 10:21 PM
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Yeah tell me about it. Here were the goalies in 1996: Ranford, Brodeur, Joseph. All three are good. but none were great at the time. Ranford's best years were behind him, Joseph's were coming right at him and Brodeur had a couple more years before he became a better goalie. Who was missing? A guy named Patrick Roy. He only did what........win the Cup that year? Belfour was another guy that was noticeably missing. Sure at the time he had a bad knack for being a choker (its true) but he was better than Joseph.

Other than that Sather didnt do that bad of a job. It wasnt his fault Lemieux, and Bourque decided to sit out. Kariya and MacInnis were injured as was Francis. Imagine those guys on that team? Wow.

'98 was just a bad time. Gretzky was a year away from retirement. Lemieux was out of the game at the time. Pronger wasnt QUITE Pronger yet. Thornton was a rookie, as was Marleau, and Lecavalier and Richards were both in their second year of juniors. It was a bad transition time I thought.
One thing to keep in mind with Roy in 1996: the roster was chosen before the playoffs started. If it was chosen after the playoffs, Roy would be on the team. Also, keep in mind Roy wasn't always enthused about playing for Canada, there's no guarantee he would have played. He struggled in the lockout season, and the first half of the 1995-96 campaign. Ranford was sensational down the stretch for Boston, and let's remember that he provided MVP-calibre goaltending at the 1994 Worlds and the 1991 Canada Cup.

Again, if the roster was picked two months later, Roy is on the team. As for Belfour, the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons were not kind to him at all.

You can't go solely on the season that preceded roster selection. If you did, Darren Puppa and Chris Osgood would have been our 1-2 punch at the 1996 World Cup, and that's just wrong. But Ranford over Roy wasn't the boneheaded move in March or April of 1996, that it was in September of 1996.

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03-27-2007, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by God Bless Canada View Post
Messier wasn't playing well enough to be on Canada that year. He was terrible in 1997-98.

Zaumner was a mistake. So was Corson. Corson was there because of his start, and Hockey Canada always had a man-crush on him. Solid power forward, but there were better candidates. Zaumner shouldn't have been there, but the guy to take his place should have been Mike Peca.

The selection process in 1998, with Clarke making all the decisions (followed by the problems when Sather made all the calls in 1996) was the reasoning for the selection committee we see today.
Yeah but for most of Messier's career he had risen to the ocassion, whos' to say getting one last shot at a gold wouldn't have given him a boost? Could guys like Corson and Zamuner really have given them more than what Mess may have been able to give? I'm sure there could've been other better candidates at the time than Zamuner.

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03-27-2007, 07:07 AM
  #18
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poor Rob Zamuner, doomed to be known forever as "who??? how did HE make the team?!"

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03-27-2007, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by God Bless Canada View Post
Messier wasn't playing well enough to be on Canada that year. He was terrible in 1997-98.

Zaumner was a mistake. So was Corson. Corson was there because of his start, and Hockey Canada always had a man-crush on him. Solid power forward, but there were better candidates. Zaumner shouldn't have been there, but the guy to take his place should have been Mike Peca.

The selection process in 1998, with Clarke making all the decisions (followed by the problems when Sather made all the calls in 1996) was the reasoning for the selection committee we see today.
Clarke also made Lindros captian over several more qualified player, which was a bit contraversal.

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03-27-2007, 02:29 PM
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That's possible, I mean...ROB ZAMUNER? over Mark Messier? what a joke!
Rob Zamuner was selected because he was a player Bobby Clarke was (potentially) interested in for the Flyers. It was a personal scouting mission. If that wasn't a big enough joke, there was giving the captaincy to Lindros.

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he provided MVP-calibre goaltending at the 1994 Worlds
That really means a lot.

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