TAMPA — Three Lightning stars were shut out of Canada's 2010 Olympic team Wednesday, when the roster was announced:
Veteran forwards Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier, both members of the 2006 team, and Steven Stamkos, who put himself on Canada's radar for Vancouver with his blazing start to the season.
The biggest surprise appeared to be St. Louis, who ranked third in the NHL in assists and second in power-play points entering Wednesday. St. Louis, 34, was especially looking forward to these Games because they're in Canada.
"I never take anything for granted, never thought I was a lock, but I never felt that I played myself off the team at any time," St. Louis said. "They are hard decisions to make. I've been fortunate. I've had some great experiences playing in Olympics, World Cup, All-Star Games, world championship. … You always felt that those experiences were leading up to this big one.
"To be told you're not going to participate … it's hard to take. But life is full of disappointment. You just have to accept it, not be happy with it, but you have to move on."
Lecavalier's slow start (nine goals, 37 points) didn't help his case, but it didn't make it any less of a blow to the Lightning captain, who was "very disappointed."
"I didn't really know what to expect," Lecavalier, 29, said. "I wasn't sure. I saw at (Olympic) camp this summer, there were a lot of guys that were there, a lot of good hockey players, so what can you do?"
Lecavalier was surprised St. Louis didn't make it. "Marty is, I think, one of the best wingers in the game, and for him not to be part of that team, I was very surprised," he said. "He played pretty well in the Olympics, and the last two years in the world championships he was probably the best player on that team. I think if you have a chance to get a Marty St. Louis on your team, you take it."
Stamkos, 2008's top draft pick, entered the Olympic team discussion due to his team-high 21 goals. Stamkos, 19, wasn't as surprised not being selected, saying "it was an honor in itself just hearing your name swirled around in there."
"I think I played well enough to get in the mix but not well enough to get on that team," he said. "I think you have to do something special, especially at the age I'm at, to really get severe consideration. … It's tough but not the end of the world. Now you've got to kind of prove to them that they made a mistake."
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman talked about the team "changing the guard." It has 14 players who weren't on the 2006 team that had a disappointing seventh-place finish.
Injury replacements can be made until Feb. 15.
NIITTY IN: G Antero Niittymaki was selected to play for Finland. Niittymaki played a big role in Finland reaching the gold-medal round in 2006 — it lost to Sweden in the gold-medal game — but acknowledged it'll likely take an injury for him to play a lot with Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff and Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom also on the team. "Just to make the team is a big honor," he said.
ODDS AND ENDS: D Matt Walker, on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, skated at practice for a second day. He said the pain is gone and he's working his way back into shape. … Norfolk RW Brandon Bochenski was named an AHL All-Star Game starter.