Sunday, May 16, 2004

World Cup of Hockey

Overview The tournament begins August 30 with games in six countries. The eight countries of Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland, and Germany will compete. Canada, Russia, Slovakia, and the United States make up the North American pool, and Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, and Sweden make up the European pool. The tournament concludes September 14 in Toronto. This will be the second World Cup of Hockey tournament, with Canada still stinging after the US won the 1996 tournament championship. Team Canada On Saturday, executive director Wayne Gretzky announced Canada's tentative roster for the World Cup of Hockey. The press conference was made at Calgary's Saddledome on an off-day of the Flames/Sharks series. Some notable omissions include suspended Todd Bertuzzi, as well as Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Jose Theodore, and Brendan Shanahan. Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman will be the seasoned leaders of the team. Gretzky is uncertain whether Lemieux will be healthy enough to compete:
"If he can't do it, maybe some things will change. But we're not expecting Mario to have any complications."
Defensemen include Rob Blake, Adam Foote, Chris Pronger, Ed Jovanovski, Scott Niedermayer, Eric Brewer, Wade Redden, and Robyn Regehr. Forwards include Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Smyth, Simon Gagne, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, Shane Doan, Brenden Morrow, Kirk Maltby, and Kris Draper. Goaltenders are Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, and Roberto Luongo. Training camp opens Aug. 21 in Ottawa. Team USA The roster for the US team has yet to be announced. The US team will be coached by San Jose's Ron Wilson. Comments After a botched shootout attempt in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, I can understand why Gretzky left Brendan Shanahan off the team Canada roster. Other good reasons include Brendan's sloth-like speed and inability to score in recent months. It must've been a tough decision to omit Keith Primeau, who has had a great playoffs thusfar. He has been arguably the best forward in the playoffs, with seven goals and four assists in 15 games. It was an easy decision for Gretzky to keep Todd Bertuzzi off the team Canada roster. While the forward has served his time, with the suspension banning him from the final games of the regular season and the entire playoffs, Bertuzzi still has to meet with Gary Bettman before being reinstated in the NHL. Bettman would have had to reinstate Bertuzzi for the tournament, and that would've created a circus-like atmosphere surrounding team Canada. It's good to see Steve Yzerman on the team. Just in case a NHL lockout keeps him off the ice, at least we have the comfort of knowing he'll play in the tournament. Yzerman will wear a visor, as he became a convert to the eye protection after taking a puck to his left eye in Game 5 of the Wings/Flames series. It's also good to see Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby crack the lineup together. I'd have considered Draper a lock for the team, with a career best season and finalist for the Selke, but Maltby is a surprise. It was a great move by Gretzky, though, to keep the league's best penalty killing tandem intact. Draper and Maltby are pure chemistry.


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