Geez what happened, Gordie Howe was too busy, Jean Beliveau couldn't find the time? It seems like those fine hockey ambassadors were the only names left off of the Team Canada Olympic preliminary roster on Wednesday. Wayne Gretzky and his Team Canada management group took no chances as they named 81 players to be considered worthy of the Team Canada sweater in Turin next year.
There was even some thought to naming every living, breathing and skating Canadian NHLer to the preliminary roster, as a way to cover all eventualities for Canada's entry in the 2006 Olympics.
A player must be on the preliminary roster in order to be named to the final 23 who will participate for Gold. With injuries and other possibilities Gretzky and his team didn't want to find themselves short handed come cut down day.
The early list of names is probably more about the IIHF and Olympic drug testing policies than anything else. Players on the preliminary list are now subject to spot drug testing through the upcoming months leading to Turin.
The final version of the list does not have to be submitted until Monday, so there is still time to add a few names should Gretzky, Lowe and Tambellini, feel they missed one or two. Good news for Gordie and Jean, they should start looking for those skates now, they may still have time to make the cut!