Will Caps' Green Get To Play In The Games?

Defenseman Hopes To Make Team Canada's Final Cut

December 26, 2009|By Tarik El-Bashir | Tarik El-Bashir,The Washington Post

WASHINGTON - -Everywhere Mike Green looked during the Washington Capitals' recent three-day visit to Vancouver, the high-scoring defenseman was reminded of the question that has consumed him since summer: Will he, or won't he, make Team Canada's final cut?

The four Olympic rings and the words "Vancouver 2010" adorned everything from billboards to taxicabs. Every other story on sports television, it seemed, focused on the approaching Games. Each morning after practice, a gaggle of reporters gathered around Green's locker room stall at GM Place to capture his thoughts on the matter.

"It would be pretty cool," he said. "Because the atmosphere is so crazy. The whole vibe - the city was already buzzing for the Olympics."

Whether Green will experience that buzz in February, though, is uncertain. Hockey Canada is scheduled to announce its 23-man roster Wednesday morning, and Green remains a controversial candidate because of the style of game he plays.

If Green makes the cut, he'll join a handful of his Washington teammates in the Olympic Village. If he doesn't, it will be another near miss in a young career already marked by a pair of high-profile snubs. In January, Green did not receive an invitation to the All-Star Game in Montreal, despite posting 26 points in 28 games. In June, he finished second in Norris Trophy voting for the league's top defenseman, narrowly losing out to the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara, a three-time finalist.

"I'll be nervous, obviously," said Green, who'll be in San Jose with the Capitals when the announcement is made on live television in Canada. "You get kind of excited for that day, but you don't want to get too excited."

While Green is sweating it out, many of his Capitals teammates figure to be at ease in the coming hours and days as the International Ice Hockey Federation unveils the provisional rosters for the 12 nations that will compete for Olympic gold beginning in 49 days.

On Friday, the IIHF announced that Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov will represent Russia in Vancouver.

Now the question is how many more Capitals will join their Russian comrades.

With as many as seven Capitals representing their respective nations, coach Bruce Boudreau, a Canadian, said he's going to have torn allegiances.

But as the days until Canada's highly anticipated announcement tick off the calendar, Boudreau, like everyone else in the Washington organization, is waiting anxiously, wondering whether Green, his prized pupil, has done enough in the season's first three months to convince Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman that he belongs in Vancouver, too.

Yzerman was spotted talking to Green after the Capitals played in Detroit on Oct. 10, and according to Green, he told the fourth-year Calgary native that the Team Canada brain trust wanted to see more balance in his game. Since their chat in the bowels of Joe Louis Arena, Yzerman has dropped in multiple times to evaluate Green.

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