Brodeur, Luongo, Bertuzzi lead Canadians
Canada announced its Olympic team for the Turin Games on Wednesday and Crosby, a Pittsburgh Penguins rookie widely touted as the future face of the NHL, wasn't on the list.
"We're proud to have him," Team Canada's assistant executive director Kevin Lowe said of Bertuzzi. "As human beings and in life and in this country, I think a big part of being Canadian is being able to forgive."
Bertuzzi, reinstated by the NHL in August after a serving a 17-month suspension, pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to criminal assault on Dec. 22, 2004, and was given one year of probation, which ends this week.
|Men's Olympic roster|
"For them having the faith in me is pretty rewarding," said Bertuzzi, sporting red-dyed hair. "Knowing they believe in me and that the so-called baggage that I carry wasn't going to interfere with this team."
Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games of the 2003-04 season and Stanley Cup playoffs, and his banishment continued throughout last season's NHL lockout. He was also barred from the World Cup of Hockey in September 2004 and two world championships.
He struggled early this season, scoring two goals in his first 15 games. But recently has displayed the dominating form that he used to score 46 goals and 97 points in 2002-03.
"In 2003-04, no question Todd Bertuzzi was one of the top three or four forwards in all of Canada, if not the world, and that's the type of player we've seen in the last couple of weeks," Lowe said.
The team is mostly made up of players who represented Canada during wins at the 2002 Olympics, '03 and '04 world championships and last year's World Cup.
Columbus forward Rick Nash made the team despite missing all but five games this season with a high ankle sprain and a knee injury. He was Canada's best player at this year's world championship and had two goals in his first two games back last week.
Crosby, the first pick in this year's draft, ranks second among rookies and 29th overall with 14 goals and 19 assists. But the 18-year-old center was left out.
"This roster is built around not only skill and speed and courage, but also the experience," said Steve Tambellini, director of player personnel.
Crosby was attending a players-only Christmas party Wednesday night and wasn't immediately available for comment, but his agent, Pat Brisson, said he would have easily fit onto one of Canada's top two lines.
"He's such a competitor, but at the same time he understands Canada has a big talent pool of great players," Brisson said.
Asked how upset Crosby was, Brisson said, "He wouldn't be normal if he wasn't disappointed. He's a proud competitor."
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, one of Canada's returning gold medalists, said Crosby was just a victim of a rich talent pool.
"He's a young guy," Brodeur said. "When you have the privilege of playing for the greatest hockey country, there are only so many players. It's not that he's not worth being there, it's just because he's in a situation that Team Canada has a new wave of young players."
Lowe read a statement by Wayne Gretzky, Team Canada's executive director, thanking fans for their best wishes after the death of his mother, Phyllis, on Monday.
"This is a great day for Canadian hockey and congratulations to everyone. I know my mom was looking forward to this day as every Canadian is," Gretzky said.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said Gretzky will be in Turin and remain "the leader heading into the Olympics."
Nicholson confirmed he had discussions with the Canadian Olympic Committee over concerns about naming Bertuzzi, and forward Dany Heatley, who pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and was sentenced to three years' probation and community service for the car crash that killed then-Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder in 2003.
"I think it's a non-issue," Nicholson said. "They will look at the list in the next few days and I don't expect anything coming back."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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