Offensive defensemen another perk in new NHL


Much of the pre-Olympic buzz around the NHL surrounds which of Canada's young guns -- Eric Staal, Jason Spezza and/or Sidney Crosby -- will fill the gaps created by the possible absences of players like Mario Lemieux, Rick Nash and Steve Yzerman. Let's not forget it will take a good measure of experience and veteran savvy for any team to bring home the gold in what promises to be the finest tournament ever. Let's assume Yzerman is not going to be on Canada's Olympic team.

The 40-year-old Wings captain has just six points, is a minus-2 and is playing just 11:42 a night after missing considerable time with injury. Could he be a valuable member of the Olympic squad, killing penalties and the like? Sure. But will he? No. And if so, why not Mark Recchi? Likable Recchi is 37 and the go-to guy in the Penguins' dressing room, not to mention Crosby's road roommate. He has 19 points in 23 games and is averaging 21:56 a night. Sure, he's minus-18, but there isn't a player who wouldn't be dragging around a minus rating the way the Penguins play defense.

Recchi is on Canada's 81-man list, although Recchi joked he is "No. 81." But the Canadian brain trust should look long and hard at a guy who can do it all: kill penalties, work the power play, shadow the other team's best players, and do it all with a smile on his face and a jump in his step.