Archive for the ‘Team North America’ Category

Why Team North America is a Horrible Idea!

September 19, 2016

The World Cup of Hockey is underway and already we have seen significant buzz generated by Team North America. Comprised of the young 23 and under players from Canada and the United States, Team North America boasts a lot of high end skill and speed, and a brand of exciting, offensive hockey. So why would that be a bad idea?

Well, the Canada Cup, which is now the World Cup of Hockey, needed 8 teams to fill out their round robin tournament schedule. Traditionally, like the Olympics, the top 8 countries would be represented. However, with the decline of Slovakian hockey, and the mediocrity of the Swiss and German programs, World Cup organizers did not want to have two teams in the tournament that would lose every game 18-0. Or teams that would merely stack all 5 players on their own blueline trying to break up rush after rush. It was due to the weakness of these secondary countries relative to the powers of Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czechs that Team North America and Team Europe (cobbled together from the many European players from countries not deep enough to field a competitive team).

While it can be argued that Team Europe makes sense in a way, Team North America does nothing but penalize the US team. Why? Take a look at the North American Roster:

Forwards

Eichel (US) – McDavid – Gaudreau (US)

Saad (US) – Scheifele – A. Matthews (US)

MacKinnon – Hopkins – Drouin

Trochedk (US) – Couturier – Larkin (US)

Miller (US)

Defense

Ekblad – Jones (US)

Gostisbehere (US) – Parayko

Trouba (US) – Murray

Reilly

Goal

Murray

Gibson (US)

Hellebuck (US)

Glancing at the non-US players, all of whom are Canadian, which of these guys would have had a hope or a prayer to make the stacked Canadian team? I would argue that only Connor McDavid would have made the Canadian team if there were no Team North America. Maybe Ekblad would have an outside chance in a few years.

However, how much less lonely would Patrick Kane be on the skill side of the US team if he had Johnny Gaudreau, Austin Matthews, Jack Eichel, and Brandon Saad as running mates? Additionally, Larkin, Jones, and Gostisbehere could all have easily made the team. If you don’t think the US Team management wouldn’t swap out the plodding David Backes, Dubinsky, Palmieri, and Abdelkader and JVR for Eichel, Saad, Gaudreau, Matthews, Saad, and Larkin you are crazy. Could the US, who got shutout in their first game, use such an infusion of skill and speed? Of course. Could you see them swapping Erick and Jack, a couple of Johnsons, for Gostisbehere and Seth Jones? Of course.

This tournament is stacked in Canada’s favor as a result. They lost virtually no one from their team to form Team North America, while there are easily 6-7 guys, or 1/3rd of the roster, that the US has playing for Team North America. We are not seeing, even close, to the best the US has to offer. And in what is supposed to be a best on best tournament, that is very disappointing.

As much fun as the novelty of Team North America has been, let’s hope this is the last time we see such a team together. Canada has a big enough advantage with the majority of NHLer hailing from their borders. They don’t need to weaken one of the few legit opponents they have, the US Team, in an effort to round out the 8 team field. Let the Swiss, the Germans, whoever the top 8 teams are from the previous year’s world championships, compete, even if they lose by a great margin. Otherwise the victory won by the championship team in the World Cup will be tainted by a diluted field, which is what we are seeing happen this year.