VANCOUVER — Jeff Carter might end up playing for Team Canada after all.
The Philadelphia Flyers forward has been told he’ll be given Ryan Getzlaf’s spot on the Olympic team if the Anaheim Ducks centre is unable to play, sources told The Canadian Press on Wednesday.
Getzlaf is currently listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle and is still hoping to compete at the Vancouver Games. However, a source close to the situation said executive director Steve Yzerman contacted Carter to put him on alert should the injury keep Getzlaf out of Canada’s lineup.
The handling of injuries is extremely important at this Olympic tournament because teams won’t be carrying a taxi squad like they did four years ago in Turin, Italy. Instead, each country will only be able to use the 23 players it registers with the IIHF on Feb. 15 — the night before the event begins.
Getzlaf suffered his injury on Monday night after getting tangled up with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown during the second period and falling awkwardly. An MRI test on Tuesday revealed no significant ligament damage and Getzlaf indicated he hoped to make a quick return to Anaheim’s lineup.
“I’m relieved the test showed no significant damage,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. “My goal is to return to the ice this week for the Ducks, and I look forward to joining Team Canada.”
Prior to the Olympic break, Anaheim visits Calgary on Saturday and Edmonton on Sunday.
The Flyers wrap up their schedule with a game in Montreal on Saturday. A source indicated that Hockey Canada had already made travel arrangements to bring Carter to Vancouver the following day — just in case he’s needed.
Carter received serious consideration from the Canadian management group back in December when the preliminary roster was named. He was one of the last players to be left off.
If he ends up filling in for Getzlaf, he’ll join Flyers teammate Mike Richards in Vancouver. Yzerman is hoping familiarity among the players will help the team quickly build chemistry as it will only practice together once before playing Norway on Feb. 16.
The Canadian management team is prepared to wait right until the roster deadline before making a final decision on Getzlaf’s status.
“It’s day to day,” Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not going to rush. We want to give Ryan as much time as we can to see if he can come back.”
Getzlaf had been pencilled in as the Canadian team’s second-line centre and was expected to be paired with winger Corey Perry, his teammate in Anaheim. Both of those players are among the 15 Olympic rookies that were named to Canada’s preliminary roster.
Carter is also hoping to make his first Olympic appearance.
Interestingly, all three of those players were selected in the first round of the 2003 draft — Carter was 11th, Getzlaf was 19th and Perry was 28th.