Hat Trick: Ferraro, Team Canada, & GM McPhee

Hat Trick: Ferraro, Team Canada, & GM McPhee

Ross Brewitt

Thursday morning, armed with a hot coffee, I stand at the kitchen counter and hear Ray Ferraro listing those players he considers prime candidates for Team Canada when the 2014 Sochi Olympics come calling.

Truth is, I like his analysis on anything to do with hockey. As such, I’m biased. Mainly because unlike others, who revert to shock-value teasers and theatrical underlines of their points, Ferraro delivers his considered opinion like a guy who gave the subject time, thought, and scrutiny. He also does it in language and terms you can follow. You might call him deliberate in his deliberations.

Hell, he even looks and sounds like a veteran of 18 NHL seasons, over 1,300 games including playoffs, a man with no-nonsense written all over his countenance. He’s believable to a “B.”

But let’s be real here. Picking the best 25 Canadian Hockey players in three categories, goal, defense and forwards, isn’t as difficult as making coffee on the new Tassimo. Not even close.

In his early Olympic run-thru, he cited the changing of the guard in goaltending as a focal point, giving the number-one nod to Carey Price in Montreal. He followed with Cam Ward of Carolina, and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury.

Do I agree with Ferraro? On Price, yes. As for the other two, not yet. Yet, having heard Ferraro select them this early because he “likes their game,” has me rethinking my standards. When Ray speaks, you listen. Still, I need to see how the abandoned Roberto Luongo does in the coming months.

Besides, goalies being the flip-flopping grinches they are, you can never forget the “dark horse.” There’s always an out-of-the-blue sandbagger in the mix.

Another noteworthy item concerning other players was the inclusion of three Staal brothers, Eric, Mark, and Jordan, plus Patrick Sharp too. I know it’s early but anyone with roots in Thunder Bay, which includes this scribbler, has got to feel a bit of reflected glory.

Frankly, having them on his projected roster doesn’t mean much to the final team selection, after all, GM Stevie Yzerman has to have some say, but having Ferraro endorse them carries a lot of weight in a lot of circles.

Still at this point in the lead-up to Sochi, according to other “insider” selectors it’s interesting how many of the Team Canada players seem to be a lock. Especially on defense.

Also interesting in the morning news was the question of who will be the first coach or GM to be canned? Easy. Pick any team slow out of the gate in this latest NHL-inflicted dwarf schedule and you are on the right track. One shaky choice sticks out for me. George McPhee , of the Washington Capitals.

Hired as GM in the ’97-’98 season from the Vancouver Canucks where he was VP of Hockey Operations, the drawback over his term to date is his choice of coaches. McPhee led off with Ron Wilson. Then came Bruce Cassidy, Glen Hanlon, and Bruce Boudreau who up until then, deserving or not, was a lifer in the American Hockey League.

McPhee was also the man who selected Alex Ovechkin in the 2004 draft. Since then, Alex has gone through Hanlon and Boudreau like pool room chili the day after the Super Bowl party. Presently Ovie’s going through Adam Oates.

When McPhee canned Boudreau I wrote in this space that Gabby wouldn’t be out of work more than a couple of weeks. I believe the Ducks had him behind their bench in just four days.

It simply underlines whether you want a coach with authority, or a lap dog line-changer at the whim of the highly-paid superstar. In that regard it’s too bad they can’t fire hands-on owners.

Between Ovechkin and owner Ted Leonsis, it’s obvious they’re not leaving, so McPhee could be the odd man out. Therefore, let me be the first to say if McPhee takes the fall, he won’t be in the unemployed line for long.

In Washington all you need is a coach who can work out a game plan that suits Alex.

That’s something Boudreau, or McPhee, didn’t understand.

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