The curious challenge of being Steve Yzerman and company
So there you have it. The men’s hockey team is official.
It took a few minutes of podium shuffle between Steve Yzerman and his team to quickly announce 25 names. A few minutes. What it took to get to there was much more involved.
Yzerman was visibly relieved on Tuesday, he even admitted to being nervous. When asked about the pressure on Team Canada for yet another time, he sighs, “I don’t worry about the pressure, obviously we all get butterflies, we’re nervous. Just being here today is somewhat nerve-racking. Whether it’s the Olympics or the Stanley Cup finals you go about the process, you do your job and hopefully things work out.”
And for today, the job is done. By all accounts, it was an exhausting one. As it should have been. You could fill a Greyhound with the talented Canadian players who deserve to be on this roster. They got there with hard-work. Their management team showed the same effort.
“It went into the wee hours of the night, we talked all positions, defence, forward and goal and looked at the list and made sure we all felt good leaving that room, going to bed last night knowing that we’d made the right decisions,” Ken Holland told the media.
If the right decisions are the player choices that allow for a restful sleep, I suppose that’s one kind of correct. Behind all the speculation and now dissection, there is a group of hockey minds who struggled to choose. Today was as much a cathartic event for them as it was for the players.
“You go over things four, five, six, seven times…is this the right reason, is this the right guy. We talked about four or five guys at the end, and you have second thoughts but you have to be firm in what you believe. These are hard decisions,” commented Peter Chiarelli afterwards.
Chiarelli is contemplative with his answers, but forthcoming. While questions centre around what will happen in Sochi, he seems to be detaching from the tentacles of what he just delivered. Back to the choosing. Reporters asked if there are any other hockey managers facing the same scrutiny. Probably not.
And perhaps that’s the difficulty. Hockey Canada chooses what they believe is the best team. The Canadian hockey fan hopes it’s the gold medal team. For all the talk of insulation, that expectation must be tough to ignore. And it’s even harder to respond to.
Mike Babcock has an answer to the expectation, “It’s a fine line. In order to win you gotta’ line up the moon and the stars. It’s hard to win. I really believe when you’re faced with an opportunity your preparation has got to be great and if you do that, if you have a gold medal process, you have a chance to get what you want.”
There’s process again. Focusing on what you need to be doing in the moment. There were no team members there today, of course, but if you closed your eyes you might imagine the management and staff to sound a lot like athletes. All process. Forget the result.
It’s one of the classic Canadian dichotomies. Millions are compelled by a gold medal, and the very few able to affect that outcome are trying to ignore it.
The sun will come up tomorrow. For about a dozen or so passed over players, it will rise with the disappointment of not being among today’s 25. And the lucky will go to work, at least mentally. Prepare for the much bigger show in about five weeks.
Babcock is humorously honest when asked about what he’ll say when that day finally arrives, “Well I don’t know…the good thing about it is I have some time to think about that, it’s a long flight, I should get a lot of thinking done.”