Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/20/05 at 01:55 AM ET
Even though Team Canada boss Wayne Gretzky has said Steve Yzerman is on the 2006 Torino Olympic team if he is healthy, Yzerman's pride prevents him from accepting that verdict. "If I don't play well, I don't think I will be on the Olympic team because there are too many good players," he said. At 40, Yzerman is coming back for his 22nd NHL season, and it isn't to be a role player. Yzerman has endured such high-profile health issues over the last few years — including a scary eye injury in the 2004 playoffs — that it's easy to forget he needed radical leg surgery to save his career three years ago. Yzerman said he appreciates Gretzky's vote of confidence but he doesn't view it as a free pass to the Olympics. "Some of the best young players in the game are Canadian," Yzerman said. "I don't care how many years you have played and how much success you have had. This is the only year that matters. ... To me, I have to earn the place."
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