Crosby headlines Canada's ice hockey team for Sochi

Tue Jan 7, 2014 2:44pm EST
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Sidney Crosby will lead the Canadian men's Olympic ice hockey team at next month's Sochi Games where a roster made up of NHL players looks to defend the gold medal won four years ago.

Crosby, who scored the golden goal that capped off the 2010 Vancouver Games, is among 11 returning Olympians announced to a 25-man team that was being scrutinized on Canadian TV and radio stations and on social media since it was unveiled on Tuesday.

While some players like Crosby and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks were unanimous selections, others will be the subject of fiery debate in the hockey-obsessed nation right up to the opening faceoff in Sochi.

"We recognize the very difficult decisions we had to make," Team Canada General Manager Steve Yzerman, referring to the depth of talent he had to chose from, told a highly-anticipated news conference that was broadcast live on Canadian TV.

"The hockey world is getting more and more competitive. We won a gut-wrenching gold medal on home ice four years ago and the competition is even harder today.

"Our goal is to go to Sochi and come home with the gold medal but by no means do we consider that an easy task."

Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who was in net when Canada triumphed in 2010, looks to retain the starting role but will have to battle with newcomer Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes is Canada's third goaltender.

The defense will be anchored by Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators.   Continued...

Canada's Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team executive director Steve Yzerman (R) and Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt (L) look on as head coach Mike Babcock (C) dons a team jacket during a news conference in Toronto January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris