Yzerman: Team Canada putting ‘more of a premium’ on skating

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The day after announcing invites to Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, GM Steve Yzerman shed some light into the selection process for Sochi.

“There will be more of a premium placed on skating,” he told Sportsnet. “Playing with a bigger ice surface, I believe there is a priority and an importance in being able to get around the ice, to skate.

“That weighed into our decision (for camp invites) and will weigh into our final decisions on putting this team together.”

Putting a priority on skating was evidence in the camp selection process.

One key member of Canada’s gold medal-winning side of four years ago, Jarome Iginla, wasn’t invited. Despite setting up Sidney Crosby for the game-winning goal in 2010, Iginla has slowed since the Vancouver Olympics, when games were played on an NHL-sized sheet of ice — in Sochi, players will skate on a sheet that’s 15 feet wider with more space behind the goal lines.

Yzerman’s invites acknowledge the change.

Speedsters like Taylor Hall and Matt Duchene were added to the forward group while on defense, the likes of P.K. Subban and Kris Letang were invited, whereas more physical, stay-at-home defensemen like Francois Beauchemin and Dan Girardi were passed over.

Yzerman said he learned lessons from the 2006 games in Turin, when a slower, big-bodied Canadian team (featuring Adam Foote, Todd Bertuzzi and Robyn Regehr) struggled to adapt to the larger surface.

“I just felt that (the Turin) team needed more speed, both on the back end and up front,” he said. “We’ll have a more mobile group this year.”