This World Cup of Hockey has several European teams: Team Sweden, Team Finland, Team Czech Republic, Team Russia. All have big-name players, flair, history, and flags/anthems. But no team in this tournament is as diverse, or exciting, as Team Europe. With a collection of players from across the nether regions of the continent - 8 countries in all - from Germany through to Slovakia and Slovenia, across to Switzerland, Austria and France, then ending up with Denmark and Norway in the north., this team is pretty unique and will have a hard time gelling.
Who exactly are Team Europe?
The coach is Ralph Krueger - a name familiar to us, as a former Oilers coach - but also a man who has been out of hockey since February 2014, moving into English soccer as Chairman of Southampton FC (the equivalent to GM in hockey). An odd appointment to say the least. However they made up for that with the appointment of the GM: none other than Miroslav Satan.
Which Canucks should I look out for?
Our Great Dane, Jannik Hansen, and Luca Sbisa on the roster. You simply HAVE to cheer these guys on. Not many others will.
Vanek - Kopitar - Hossa
Gaborik - Nielsen - Zuccarello
Niederreiter - Draisaitl - Tatar
Rieder - Bellemare - Hansen
Sekera - Josi
Chara - Seidenberg
Sbisa - Streit
What can we look forward to with this team?
- Anze Kopitar will lead this team as Captain. The current Selke holder, he is the big name on this team and will be looked to for both scoring and shutting down the opposition. He could, and likely will, see 25mins + every game.
- The projected second line could shock a few teams. With Gaborik's experience and Nielsen's playmaking, combined with Zuccarello's speed and positioning, this line could well outscore the others. I'd be excited by this line in the NHL, if Gaborik would stay healthy.
- Seeing Jannik Hansen and Luca Sbisa playing familiar roles - 4th line checker with occasional scoring, and 3rd line checking D - which is ideally where they'd play on a full-strength Nucks team this year.
- The D looks old, and will be made to look even older against Team North America. Sekera, Chara, Seidenberg, Streit and Ehrhoff are all on that slippery downward slope, and two of them still don't have a deal for the coming season. If the D plays to its former reputation, it's strong. I just doubt if it can.
- If Halak is anything other than 200% ready, goaltending will not be able to bail the D out. Essentially, Team Europe is going to have to play the Oilers way - no D or G, just try and outscore the opposition - and that will never amount to wins at this level.
- The team will have no anthem played, as there was simply no way to mash up eight different anthems without involving David Guetta. I'm sure some of the players will be singing their own anthems in their heads while the opposition one is being played.
How will they do?
Ability-wise, it's probably the weakest of all the teams at the World Cup of Hockey. All Team Europe can hope is that training camp bring together some team chemistry, that scoring comes from all four lines, and that Kopitar beasts his way through Kane, Backes, Crosby, Bergeron and Toews en route to the knockout phase.
Getting through the group stage would be a magnificent achievement. But dead last is more likely.