All-Stars At Every Position Has Become Norm For Puck-Obsessed Nation Of The North

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is everyone else playing for silver? Sure looks like it.

Team Canada on Tuesday announced its men’s hockey team for next month’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, and to say it’s loaded with talent would be the understatement of the new year.

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“In the end we’ve put together the best group of players we possibly can. Now we have to become the best team we possibly can,” head coach Mike Babcock said.

Islanders captain John Tavares and Rangers star winger Rick Nash will join a collection of talent that is as good on paper as any the hockey-obsessed country has ever produced in international competition.

Tavares and Nash will be joined by NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby and a host of accomplished others, including at forward: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Toews.

On defense, the Canadians will roll out Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Shea Weber.

In goal, Babcock will have to choose from Roberto Luongo, Carey Price and Mike Smith.

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The list of players that didn’t make the cut is quite impressive as well, including former Hart Trophy winner Martin St. Louis, high-scoring forward James Neal, veteran assist machine Joe Thornton, veteran sniper Claude Giroux and forward Eric Staal, in addition to Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, steady Brent Seabrook and power play machine Dan Boyle.

Tavares is enjoying what may the best season of his five-year career. The 23-year-old center has 20 goals and 31 assists and is on pace for what would be a career-high 96 points. He has 13 points in his last six games, including notching three goals and two assists in the Islanders’ 7-3 rout of Dallas on Monday night.

Nash, who was on Canada’s gold-medal winning team in 2010 in Vancouver, has battled injury and inconsistency all season, registering just 18 points in 27 games, but remains one of the most talented forwards on the planet. He appeared to break out a bit on Monday, scoring twice in the Rangers’ 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus.

Canada’s first game in Sochi is Feb. 13 against Norway. Canada will also play Group B games against Austria on Feb. 14 and Finland on Feb. 16.

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