Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Don Cherry needs to be stopped. I can put up with the subtle racism and blatant xenophobia, but I will not stand for his latest verbal proclamation. Last Saturday’s Coach’s Corner featured Don showing clips of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley, while exclaiming this is your No. 1 line Canada. Oh, please.
I have discussed Joe Thornton’s Olympic eligibility ad nauseum over the past year, but with the Olympic roster about to be named I think letting Steve Yzerman know the reasons for Joe’s exclusion is imperative.
The first reason is that no Joe Thornton-led team has ever done anything of significance. Ever. Sure he puts up a ton of points, but he has never played well in a meaningful game. Congratulations, you put up 5 points against the Nashville Predators in late November. You have tremendous character. He has 12 goals in 76 playoff games and is minus-12. His game doesn’t have an extra gear. He plays with the same languid style whether it is the first game of the regular season or an elimination game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He gets a free pass for playing the 2004 playoffs with broken ribs, but you’d think he’d be able to put up at least one measly point, but he couldn’t even do that. Wait, sorry, I was giving him a free pass for that one.
The only way Joe Thornton should make team Canada is if he plays as the fourth-line centre. He’s certainly not making it over Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, and Mike Richards. Even on the fourth line he’s suspect. He is 6’4 and 235 lbs, but he doesn’t use it at all. He’s a big man who plays a peripheral game. Are opposing players afraid to play against Joe Thornton? Probably not when the competition is the best players in the world. Will it be physically hard? Certainly not.
Now that Joe has been properly eviscerated let’s examine Patrick Marleau. Wait, people are actually considering Patrick Marleau for this team? He was close to being run out of San Jose a few years ago but managed to rebound well with an excellent season last year and an impressive start this year. However, much like Jumbo Joe, he wilts under pressure. Aside from the 2006 playoffs when he scored 9 goals and 5 assists (and helped me win $100 in fantasy cash) he has done nothing. Even including 2006 name a big game that Patrick Marleau has ever showed up for. I will accept any in which he collects a mere point. Still not many. We don’t even have to discuss his proclivity for giving defencemen a clear shot at the goalie. He also had his captaincy taken away this summer. Responding with the season he’s having is only proving my point that he can’t play under pressure. He was totally incapable of leading a team that only needed to show up most nights to win. He couldn’t handle that pressure? Saku Koivu led the Montreal Canadians and battled cancer (can’t ever say this site is too pro-Leaf after a comment like that). Marleau couldn’t even lead a guaranteed 105-point team. Marleau is putting up big points now, but that’s because it’s not even January and he just has to pass a puck in Dany Heatley’s general vicinity and it’ll be an assist.
I’ve unfairly associated Dany Heatley with these other two. Dany Heatley will play for team Canada. He’ll probably be the second-line winger with the possible chance to play on the first line in the event that someone struggles. He’s played well in the playoffs and has absolutely torn up the international competition when invited to play in the World Championships. I don’t really like him after his trade demand fiasco of the summer, but I want to see Canada win, and Heatley is one of the top 3 pure goal scorers in the NHL. He’s in.
If Satan asked you to compose a team of hockey players who would play a game to see if you lived or died, you’re telling me you would pick Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton to play? Well, Canada’s collective soul might shatter if they don’t win a gold medal in Olympic hockey this year. Joe and Patrick better take the time off and rest before their inevitable playoff collapse.