Fans of the IIHF World Hockey Championships (regardless of the team I think) will recognize one conspicuously absent name: Ryan Smyth. Besides from last year, while the Oilers went deep into the playoffs and Team Canada underwent a youth movement, Ryan Smyth has been the one constant about Team Canada. Success has followed. From Smyth's inclusion 12 years ago in the World Junior Championship (Gold) to 2002 Salt Lake City, to 2003-2004 World Hockey Championships (Gold) and the World Cup of Hockey (1st), Smyth has made a respectable name for himself on the international stage. So much so he has been given the moniker of 'Captain Canada."
The question for Team Canada this year is 'who will fill that leadership void?'
Of the players named to the roster so far, I think one name sticks out above the rest: Shane Doan.
In 1995, a year after Ryan Smyth was drafted 6th overall by the Edmonton Oilers, the Oilers again had the 6th overall pick. When it was Glen Sather's turn The then named Northlands Colliseum chanted one name: Shane Doan! Shane Doan! The Halkirk Alberta native could've been an Edmonton Oiler.
Glen Sather went with a guy named Steve Kelley instead.
The Winnipeg Jets picked Shane Doan 7th overall in 1995, and he is the last remaining player from the Winnipeg days.
Shane Doan has played for Canada numerous times in the World Championships, starting in 1999 as a replacement for Eric Daze, and was part of the two Gold medals in 2003. As a kid he watched Gretzky pass it to Lemieux in 89 and dreamed of scoring one just like it. In 2004, he got his chance, scoring the winning goal in Canada's first and only World Cup victory.
Since that victory, Canada has fallen into a bit of a slump. Silver in the '05 Worlds, 5th in the 2006 Olympics, 4th in the '06 Worlds. Doan will get the chance to win again in '07.
While in previous World Championships Doan was the supporting player, this year he will be the veteran. And barring a big suprise, he will be named Captain Canada.
There will be about 3 more forwards named to the team (possibly a 4th "reserve" forward) and 1-2 more defenceman. Canada needs one 1st-2nd liner, and 2 3rd line guys. I speculate that Brendan Morrow will be on the list of forwards for one main reason. Brendan Morrow is a 'bubble' player on Team Canada. He has participated in numerous World Championships and proven his mettle (played on a line with Dany Heatly and hit a guy so hard on the forecheck the guy had to leave the game and be hospitalized). Despite this, he's never quite made the 'A' team. He was a reserve forward in the World Cup of Hockey (along with Patrick Marleau) and didn't get to play in any games (save an exhibition). He unfortunately never made the 2006 Olympic team either. He's always close, but not quite. The World Championships on the other hand, is a proving ground for future Team Canada 'A' squad players. Morrow has successfully played a supporting role, but if he wants to make the bigs, he needs to play a central role.
If Morrow was named to the team, he would be a huge addition.