Canada has high hopes for worlds

When Troy Brouwer returned from a vacation during the NHL’s Olympic break, he tuned in to the final few games of Team Canada’s run to gold in Sochi. Understandably, he liked what he saw. “I think the Olympic team did an absolutely amazing job at showing how Canadians play hockey,” said Brouwer.

MINSK, Belarus — When Troy Brouwer returned from a vacation during the NHL’s Olympic break, he tuned in to the final few games of Team Canada’s run to gold in Sochi. Understandably, he liked what he saw.

“I think the Olympic team did an absolutely amazing job at showing how Canadians play hockey,” said Brouwer.

Brouwer wasn’t the only one. Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett saw not just a winning style of hockey but something to emulate.

As coach of Canada’s team at the world championship, he wants to follow the path blazed by Mike Babcock and the stars who went undefeated at the Olympics.

“I look at the blueprint from a few months ago in Sochi, the way Canada played: A hard, Canadian style of hockey,” Tippett said in a recent phone interview. “If we can go and try to continue that mindset for our team, I think that would be something that would be crazy not to look at.”

It would be crazy to think any team can duplicate that effort in perfect fashion. Canada’s team for the IIHF world hockey championship won’t have any players from Sochi and this is a different tournament altogether.

Most of the other countries are in the same boat, absent the top-end NHL talent from the Olympics, save for Alex Ovechkin and Sergei Bobrovsky returning for Russia after its disappointing run and others like Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic and Gustav Nyquist of Sweden also going to Minsk.

But that doesn’t change Canaada’s plan for this tournament, which begins with Friday’s opener against France. Kyle Turris isn’t Sidney Crosby, Morgan Rielly isn’t Shea Weber and neither James Reimer nor Ben Scrivens is Carey Price, but the hope is that talented NHL players in their own right can get the same job done.

“I think your team has to have its own identity, but you look at what that team did and the success it had on the big ice and with NHL players, there’s certainly some things that you can use on our team,” Tippett said. “The team that played in Sochi, you could say was one of the best teams in the history of the game, the way they played. You realize we don’t have that same team, but the way they played and their commitment to playing as a team was as strong as anything we’ve seen in a long time. That part of the game can certainly translate into our team.”

The first steps are there. General manager Rob Blake along with assistant GMs Ron Hextall, Brad Treliving and Brad Pascall, like Steve Yzerman and his management team several months ago, looked for forward pairs to put together. Tippett, like Babcock, believes in having a left- and a right-handed shot on each defensive pairing.

In terms of selecting the roster, Blake reiterated the obvious: that unlike the Olympics, an event every healthy player called wants badly to play in, the world championship is more selective. It has been a long NHL season and it’s too much of a grind to expect Sochi Olympians to jump at the chance to play three extra weeks in Minsk.

“You go down to the tier of the younger guys and you get your commitments,” Blake said in a phone interview. “You kind of work around. But Ron Hextall, Brad Treliving and Brad Pascall, the one thing they were pretty passionate about from the beginning is the guys that want to be there, those are the ones that you want.”

That group includes three Maple Leafs: Reimer, Rielly and centre Nazem Kadri, who played on the wing in Canada’s exhibition game Tuesday in Zurich. It also includes in defenceman Braydon Coburn and forwards Brayden Schenn and Matt Read, three Flyers who just wrapped up a seven-game series loss to the Rangers.

The crown jewel of the roster might be one of the final additions: Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon, the likely Calder Trophy winner who impressed in his first season and first Stanley Cup playoff series. MacKinnon is on the team at age 18 like Crosby was in 2006, when the Penguins star had eight goals and eight assists in nine games.

Even before MacKinnon it was a young team thanks to defencemen Erik Gudbranson, Ryan Ellis, Tyler Myers and Rielly and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Monahan and Mark Scheifele. Jason Chimera of the Washington Capitals, who won gold at the 2007 worlds in Moscow, is Canada’s oldest player at the age of 35. Chimera’s Capitals teammates Brouwer and Joel Ward are also on the roster.

Chimera, a candidate to be captain, is important to Tippett’s plan for the tournament because he knows what it’s all about.

“The importance of the players who have been over there before and their experiences, especially relating that to our younger players that haven’t had that experience, is going to be a very important part of our preparation,” Tippett said.

The one thing about Canada’s relative international inexperience is that it’s not a rarity here. Aside from Norway, Switzerland and Latvia, which feature national teams with major Sochi flavour, most teams have significant turnover from the Olympics.

Tippett didn’t see that as something Canada can take advantage of. From his experience as an assistant in this tournament, he knows what it means for European players and countries.

Just Posted

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month