CALGARY - Daniel Cleary can think of one thing that might top the Stanley Cup celebration he had in Newfoundland and Labrador last summer.

The Detroit Red Wings forward dreams of bringing an Olympic gold medal back to his home province. It would probably eclipse the party he had after becoming the first Newfoundlander to win the NHL's championship trophy.

"Winning the Stanley Cup was amazing, bringing it home and being the first Newfoundlander was something you'll never forget," Cleary said Thursday at Canada's Olympic orientation camp. "But I think a gold medal is at another level - when you have the whole country behind you as opposed to only Red Wings fans or Newfoundland fans for me. It would be amazing for me.

"Just even being here is awesome. It's going to be fun now until Christmas seeing how things unfold (with the Olympic team). If I'm on there, I'll do my best to make Newfoundland proud."

The 30-year-old came within one game of winning another Stanley Cup in June, but had to watch as the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrated a Game 7 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Cleary actually went out of his way at this week's Olympic camp to congratulate Penguins players Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury on their victory.

"I just said to them, 'You know, you guys played great,"' said Cleary. "Sometimes you've got to tip your hat to those guys. I thought Fleury was amazing, he's the biggest reason they won. To be able to win Game 6 at home and then come in our building and take Game 7 (was impressive)."

He wouldn't mind seeing a third straight Detroit-Pittsburgh final next spring.

"We won one, they won one - hopefully we'll have a rubber match," said Cleary. "They played great. Listen, they deserved it."


LINE 'EM UP: Two key members of a potential top line for the Canada Olympic team believe they've built some chemistry in Calgary.

Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash were paired together for every practice during the orientation camp along with the scrimmage on Thursday night. They had never had the chance to play together in the past so there was a bit of a feeling out period.

"I've always kind of known his strengths, but as you get out there you see things," said Crosby. "He's got great speed but he does an even better job of kind of slowing down and knowing when to turn it on. As someone who tries to make plays and set up guys, now I know I have to put it in areas for him and play to his strengths a bit.

"He's got a lot of size and he's going to get that space so it's a matter of me finding him."


BIG CALL: Want to know how important it was for Los Angeles Kings defenceman Drew Doughty to receive an invite to this week's Olympic orientation camp?

The 20-year-old saved the voicemail message from executive director Steve Yzerman in his phone for the past two months.

"It's one thing I'll never forget, seeing a voicemail and listening to that," said Doughty. "I didn't expect to be here at all and to get that phone call, I was just in shock. I kept it in there for a while. Whenever it said to delete it, I just kept re-saving it."

Alas, Doughty's phone was broken in recent days so he lost the message.

"Now that I broke the phone, it kind of sucks because it's not going to be there anymore," he said.


HEAD START: A number of the players who attended Canada's orientation camp were hoping to use it as a chance to get a jump on the NHL season.

Most guys aren't typically this fit prior to the start of training camp. The practices in Calgary were held a frightening pace and should have most of the guys well-prepared to report to their NHL teams in September.

"For myself, I don't skate a whole lot in the summer before camp so this is going to be a nice tuneup and hopefully give me a little bit of a quicker start to the season," said Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards. "I think it's more getting your skating legs back. You can do so much off the ice in the summer time, but it's just on the ice skating, the hitting and handling the puck that you kind of lose and having a camp this intense and this fast is going to help you along obviously."

Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry wouldn't mind if the regular season started sooner than Oct. 1. He's basically ready to go now.

"When we go back to camp, we'll be pretty much in game shape," said Perry. "That's how it is out here. Everybody is quick and it's up-tempo."


SENATOR JACQUES: You can count Steve Yzerman among the people who were happy to hear that former NHL coach Jacques Demers had been named to the Canadian senate by Stephen Harper.

Yzerman once played for Demers in Detroit and the two men built a solid relationship.

"I think it's fabulous," said Yzerman. "Jacques is such a passionate person - not just about hockey, but life in general. Such an extremely personable guy as well. He had a tremendous positive impact on my career as a young player.

"He made me captain of the Red Wings when I was 21 and really challenged me to become a better player. He gave me great opportunities and I'm really grateful for that. I'm pleased for him."

The executive director of the Olympic team has faith that Demers will excel in his new role.

"I think he'll do great," said Yzerman. "I think Jacques is a good politician. He has a great rapport with people, he's a passionate guy and when he believes in something, he'll fight hard for it."

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