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The Case For Canada: Will Chris Kunitz Be In Sochi?
*Some players are guaranteed a place on Team Canada. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, John Tavares, and Duncan Keith will all be playing Olympic hockey in Sochi in February, 2014. But there is a whole league of very capable Canadians looking for a place on the country's next band of heroes...
Kunitz was fresh off a Stanley Cup championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins, in his first year with the team... He was also in the middle of a 32-point, shortened campaign, playing only 50 games with the Penguins that year... Kunitz's linemate, Sidney Crosby, scored the Olympic-winning overtime goal playing alongside Kunitz's future (but temporary) teammate Jarome Iginla.
There seems to be some idea that Kunitz is a complimentary player. He is, but he's not only that.
He was a key contributor on the Stanley Cup-winning powerhouse Anaheim Ducks in 2007, too, and he has put up 58 points in 99 career playoff games. (That sounds weak, but it's actually quite proficient.)
Sure, Kunitz plays with Crosby. But he also plays with James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, and Pascal Dupuis, and all of them have gotten better playing with each other – Kunitz included.
Is it really necessary to penalize a guy for routinely doing his job, or just because he's not a Hart Trophy winner?
Although Kunitz's point totals have never bowled anyone over on their own, he's always been a capable scorer and he was an occasional star before he ever showed up in Pennsylvania.
On a team with as much star power as Canada, what's wrong with being a supporting actor?
Tell me, what would Django Unchained have been without Christoph Waltz? Or Leo DiCaprio, for that matter.
One Sentence For...
He's a winner.
One Sentence Against...
He's a fifth wheel.
Honestly... Chris Kunitz has a very, very good shot at making this team. Not only have others tailed off the radar (not fallen off, but tailed off), but Kunitz has just kept right on trucking through 2013.
He was a first-team All-Star last season – which didn't start until January – and he has 33 points in 34 games this year.
Kunitz isn't only used to playing with some of the best players in the world – which makes him more than perfect for a six-game Olympic race to the finish – but he always plays with them, meaning that whenever Yzerman watches Crosby or Neal or Letang or Malkin, he's watching Kunitz, too.
Unlike Jamie Benn or Matt Duchene, who have to dangle keys in front of Hockey Canada to get noticed all the way out there in Dallas and Colorado, Kunitz plays in the East Coast powder keg.
I say he makes it.