Players finding their roles
The squad touched down at the Halifax airport yesterday and arrived atthe Metro Centre late in the afternoon, and is set to open thetournament on Friday against Slovenia.
Question: When does an 80-point scorer end up on a fourth line, or a 20-minute-a-night player end up being a grinder?
Answer: When Canada brings a star-studded team of NHL talent to the IIHF world hockey championship.
The squad touched down at the Halifax airport yesterday and arrived at the Metro Centre late in the afternoon, and is set to open the tournament on Friday against Slovenia.
With a team full of high-scoring top-line players, head coach Ken Hitchcock expects egos to be checked at the door.
“The players can’t worry about how much they played in the NHL or who they’re playing with or what roles they’re playing,” Hitchcock said. “When you have good players and you get on a good team, everybody’s got to buy into (their roles).”
It’s situations like this where a guy like Derek Roy, who led the Buffalo Sabres in scoring with 81 points while averaging 20:58 per game, isn’t slated to skate on Canada’s top two lines, and will have to battle to land third-line time.
That, however, can only be taken as a positive for the defending champions, forward Ryan Getzlaf said.
“Most of these guys are able to play 20 minutes a night but here they’ll only have to play 12,” the Anaheim Ducks forward said. “It’s only a benefit to us. We can spread our minutes around and it should be good for us in the long run.”
Hitchcock called Monday’s 4-1 exhibition loss to Russia in Quebec City a wake-up call for his troops.
“We know how we have to play to win and anybody who was dipping their toes in the water is now fully engaged,” he said.
>> Former Halifax Mooseheads goalie Pascal Leclaire will have to wait until Sunday against Latvia to get his first start. He will give way to Cam Ward for the opener against Slovenia as the two battle for the starting duties.
“We’ll just read it from there,” Hitchcock said.
>> Hitchcock said the roster is set at 25 players, barring a major injury. There will be no more additions after the second round of the NHL playoffs concludes, barring a major injury.
“We’re done,” he said. “We’ve got as good a team as anybody in this tournament right now.”