Under intense pressure to re-establish supremacy on home ice, Canadian Olympic hockey executives announced Wednesday a 23-man roster for the Vancouver Games built around youth, a mobile but tough defense and a deep corps of internationally experienced, two-way forwards.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, 20, was among the 15 first-time Olympians and 12 players 25 or younger were selected to the team during a nationally televised news conference. The captain will be defenseman Scott Niedermayer, one of seven members of the struggling Ducks to earn an Olympic nomination Wednesday.
Niedermayer, a member of Canada’s 2002 gold-medal squad, will join teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Vancouver. Center Saku Koivu and right wing Teemu Selanne will represent Finland -- for the fourth and fifth time, respectively -- and goaltender Jonas Hiller and defenseman Luca Sbisa will play for Switzerland.
“To compete for your country and close to home will be a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Niedermayer, who did not play in the 2006 Games because of an injury.
Perry played his way onto the team with a strong start and 41 points.
“This is something I’ve waited for, for a long time,” he said, “and the dream is finally coming true.”
Doughty’s poise and sound instincts at both ends of the ice lifted him above early favorites Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr of Calgary and Mike Green of Washington.
“He’s going to be a difference maker,” Canada Coach Mike Babcock said of Doughty.
Doughty said he was too nervous to sleep much Tuesday night.
“I knew I had a shot at one of those last spots there,” he said. “Getting that phone call this morning was surprising but definitely one of my greatest moments.”
Canada finished seventh at the 2006 Turin Games with an aging team that excluded Sidney Crosby and other young standouts. Crosby made the Vancouver team, as did Carolina’s Eric Staal, rising Chicago star Jonathan Toews, and the San Jose trio of Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur, Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury were selected as goaltenders.
latimes.com /sports Olympic memories Ducks’ Scott Niedermayer shares his thoughts on playing for Team Canada.