The men's Olympic hockey team is the Canadian Press team of the year. The squad that steamrolled through the Sochi Olympics on the way to a gold medal is the overwhelming choice by editors and broadcasters across the country. Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby is shown celebrating with other Canada players after defeating Team Sweden to win the gold medal in Olympic final action at the Sochi Winter Olympics Sunday February 23

The men's Olympic hockey team is the Canadian Press team of the year. The squad that steamrolled through the Sochi Olympics on the way to a gold medal is the overwhelming choice by editors and broadcasters across the country. Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby is shown celebrating with other Canada players after defeating Team Sweden to win the gold medal in Olympic final action at the Sochi Winter Olympics Sunday February 23

Men’s hockey team named CP Team of the Year

Gold-medal Olympic men's hockey team named CP Team of the Year

  • Dec. 29, 2014 11:00 a.m.

By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Just before leaving his final news conference at the Sochi Olympics, Canadian hockey coach Mike Babcock made one final statement to reporters about the team’s methodical run to gold.

“Does anybody know who won the scoring race? Does anybody care?” Babcock asked. “Does anybody know who won the gold medal?”

Going undefeated through the tournament in February, Babcock’s group lived up to and surpassed the expectations and pressure created after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where Canada also captured the gold.

“The 2010 team, we won, we got it done, and that was a special, special team, too, and it faced a different kind of pressure,” Babcock said in a recent interview. “This (2014) team was machine-like. It just was going to win, period.”

Team Canada rolled over Norway and Austria and beat Finland in overtime in pool play. It overcame a superhuman effort from goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis to beat Latvia in the quarter-finals, then dominated the United States and Sweden to capture the gold medal for the third time in the past four Olympics.

That was more than enough to earn the Canadian Press Team of the Year honours for 2014, as voted by sports editors and broadcasters across the country. The men’s hockey team was a runaway winner, receiving 36 votes, well ahead of 10 for the women’s bobsled duo of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse and nine for the women’s Olympic hockey team.

“The Olympic men’s hockey team was the best Canada has ever fielded,” said Sean Rooney, sports editor at the Medicine Hat News. “It wasn’t that they had more talent, it’s that they played a disciplined style of game that took advantage of the talent they had.”

This group wasn’t short on talent. Up front there was Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and enough depth that Team Canada didn’t miss a beat when John Tavares went out with a knee injury. On the blue-line, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty were the leading scorers as defencemen carried the offence.

Team Canada outscored opponents 17-3, but its most convincing victory may have been a 1-0 victory over the U.S. in the semifinals.

“I don’t think the scores of the games were indicative,” general manager Steve Yzerman said. “I think our team played better than the scores. Defensively they were very, very good. Offensively they generated a ton of chances, just weren’t able to get more pucks in the net.”

Better than any team in recent Olympic history, this group was masterful at keeping the puck. As Babcock said, the other team can’t score if it doesn’t have the puck.

When opponents did get it, goaltender Carey Price was there. In his five games, Price had a 0.59 goals-against average and .972 save percentage.

“He gave us confidence every time he was in the net,” Babcock said. “He never got the other team going by giving up a rebound or giving up a bad goal. He was just steady Eddie and he seemed to really enjoy it and embrace the moment. I thought he was spectacular.”

Just about everything Team Canada did was spectacular, starting with ball hockey at its summer orientation camp through a 3-0 rout of Sweden in the final. There was strife along the way, including Steven Stamkos breaking his leg and Martin St. Louis being left off the initial roster before replacing his Tampa Bay Lightning teammate.

But none of that stopped Team Canada, which Yzerman meticulously designed to get the job done on the same international-sized ice that felled the Canadians in 2006.

“(Yzerman) gave me all the reasons why we were going to be that much better than we were in Vancouver,” former Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson said. “Everything that he talked about that day, he did it in spades with the management group and with Mike Babcock. We were just so well prepared, we learned from 2010 to make us even that much better in 2014.”

In Vancouver, Team Canada overcame early struggles amid the pressure of playing on home ice to make a run to the gold-medal game. Crosby then scored the overtime winner that a generation of Canadian hockey fans will never forget.

Crosby scored just one goal during the Sochi Olympics and endured some criticism for that back home. While the captain played stellar defence and kept opponents’ top defenders busy, the likes of Jeff Carter and Jamie Benn took care of the goals.

“He’s not worried about that, he’s worried about winning,” Babcock said. “I just think Toews and him, you go through it: Our group down the middle was spectacular to say the least. Getzy, John Tavares before he got hurt and then (Matt) Duchene. The group was incredible down the middle and they were committed defensively.”

The best defence in Sochi was an offence that held the puck in the offensive zone and wore down opponents. Yzerman credited Babcock for creating a game plan that was well-suited to the kind of international hockey Canada was forced to play.

“I think methodical is a very good word, but not to the point where it was prohibiting them from making plays,” Yzerman said. “It was just: ‘We’re playing against the best players in the world and it’s one-game elimination. We can’t just run and gun, we’re trying to take the chance out of it.'”

Team Canada left little to chance. It needed an overtime goal from Doughty to beat Finland and then Benn to score on a redirection against Jonathan Quick and the U.S., but the star-studded bunch was more or less a buzzsaw.

Lionel Wild, sports co-ordinator at the Vancouver Sun, said Team Canada “met the high expectations, handled the pressure of being defending champions in Russia (and) locked down their opponents with superb defensive team play. All their NHL stars bought in to a collective effort.”

Babcock was proud of how the team continued to get better over two weeks. The progression was noticeable and the result was a Canadian men’s hockey team winning in Russia some 42 years after the 1972 Summit Series.

“I think we really enjoyed ourselves, enjoyed the competition, understood how tough it was and understood the obligation we had to Canadians as well,” Babcock said. “Great, great, great experience to get the opportunity to follow up on what we did in Canada, to follow it up in Russia. Understanding the ’72 Series and all that stuff and all the history was special.”

And the way this group played created a template for future teams to follow. It’s not old-school, rock ’em sock ’em Canadian hockey, but it’s a new version of that.

“Skill and speed are so valuable, a great asset, and then asking the players to play a specific way, and it’s not really go out and run teams and try and out-physical them,” Yzerman said. “I think we were strong, but the emphasis wasn’t on physical dominance. The emphasis was on speed, skill and playing a disciplined game.”

Tennis stars Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard captured the male and female athlete of the year honours for 2014.

Follow @SWhyno on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

A case of Covid-19 was identified at Cranbrook Montessori Pre-School last week.
Covid identified at Cranbrook Montessori

A case of Covid-19 was identified at Cranbrook Montessori Pre-School last week.… Continue reading

The 2020 Wasa Triathlon was cancelled. Above, the bike portion of the 2019 event. Bulletin file
Gerick Sports Wasa Triathlon committee is going ahead with planning 2021 event

Lots of uncertainty, but the committee has decided its too early to cancel

Bootleg Gap Golf Course has been sold to Simkins Golf Management Inc. for $3 million.
Bootleg Gap Golf Course sold to Simkins Golf Management for $3 million

After the decision was made to sell back in October 2019, Council… Continue reading

Dorothy Kilgallen, circa 1952 (irishamerica.com)
Booknotes: Fearless reporter among the greatest of all time

Mike Selby “Success has not changed Frank Sinatra,” wrote journalist Dorothy Kilgallen… Continue reading

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Interior Health says Salmo’s COVID-19 cases have been contained. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Interior Health: Salmo’s COVID-19 cases are contained

Every person who tested positive has recovered

Most Read