While the Carolina Hurricanes have a nice complement of players headed to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, none will be more scrutinized than defenseman Justin Faulk.
While the debate on Eric Staal‘s omission from the Team Canada roster rages on, the question of Faulk’s place on Team USA remains. In recent months, Faulk is putting numbers up, however, he’s also becoming a part-time liability. On a pairing with current golden boy Andrej Sekera, Faulk has all the tools to succeed. The only problem is he isn’t — and thinks he is.
As does the Hurricanes PR department.
As Faulk’s visibility rises in Carolina, the only logical thing to do was make a case for the Olympics. Nobody blames anyone for this. Every NHL team wants a player on as many Olympic squads as they can, and Faulk seemed to be the only real candidate for the American team. With a big build-up, his issues with in-game situational awareness and rink vision tended to get glossed over.
However not qualified Faulk might be for Sochi, it can ultimately be a teachable moment for him.
Faulk is a big fish in a small pond in Carolina. He’s a top line defenseman on a team with no real superstars. Carolina has their share of stars but none on the level of a Zach Parise or Jonathan Toews. Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jeff Skinner are stars but not stratosphere superstars. So Faulk is able to be the big man on a small campus. In Sochi, he’s behind some more qualified guys. It is never a bad idea for any top line player to be reminded what the bench feels like.
For Faulk to enter the Olympic tournament with any sense of entitlement is to allow his ego to rule his skates. Faulk made that team by the tape on his stick and needs to not only compete for the gold, but learn a thing or two about his place in the hockey community.
There’s a lot of work to be done when Faulk returns to Raleigh after the break. A lot of that work needs to be done on the back end where Faulk ought to be in charge. Coming down the stretch, Faulk is going to need to be the shutdown man — and not the leader. Staal and the rest of the elder statesmen have this covered. Sitting number two or three behind some other folks ought to be the shock to Faulk’s system he needs to gain the humility needed for a late season run.