With orientation camps set to begin for most countries starting in August, preliminary rosters are now being announced for each hockey team for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi next February. It was expected that at least a few Dallas Stars players would be invited to their respective countries' camps, but it seems the initial big announcement of the day has one very notable exception.
Team Canada, which includes Lindy Ruff as an assistant coach, has decided to not include Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn on their preliminary roster. Not every player invited to orientation camp will make the final roster, but this was perhaps the biggest omission from the orientation roster we've certainly seen -- and this isn't coming purely as as Dallas Stars fan.
Steve Yzerman, along with Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland and Kevin Lowe, make up the general manager team for Canada this year and some of their decisions are certainly interesting. Brad Marchand, Jordan Eberle, Chris Kunitz and Andrew Ladd are all some very additions to the roster over someone like Benn.
Now, there's some talk that a bit of a "down" year for Benn might have played a part in this decision, but you'd have to think a team like Canada would be looking for the type of versatile power forward that Jamie Benn has become. It's just another example of how Benn continues to be underrated around the league -- or perhaps this is an indication of how he's viewed by some of the more notable GMs in the NHL.
There's also an indication that Canada could be going more for skill and speed than their prototypical power forward approach, given the larger ice the teams will be playing on in Sochi vs what they played on in Vancouver. In 2006, on the larger surface, Team Canada struggled mightily to live up to their own expectations.
At any rate, Benn will still have the chance to force his way onto the roster with a big season to start the year. To be honest, however, Stars fans should really be looking for their best players to be able to rest during that break and not be playing in an international tournament in the middle of the season anyway.
In other news, Sergei Gonchar was invited to Russia's camp and it's more than likely he'll make the final roster. If he does, it will be Gonchar's fifth Olympics appearance of his career.
We haven't seen Finland's camp roster just yet, and Team USA will announce their roster tomorrow. Still a few chances for other Stars players to get in on the action.