On the first day of Canada’s National Men’s Team orientation camp in Calgary, coach Mike Babcock laid down a challenge for his group of forwards.
Babcock, who will coach Canada’s entry into the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, told his players that they will have to be “200-foot players” by being responsible at both ends of the ice.
“You have to play a 200-foot game,” Babcock said during a pre-camp press conference yesterday afternoon.
“You have to be good without the puck. The better we are without it, the more time we’ll have it.”
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman agreed with Babcock’s assessment and noted that the management team will be watching for the best two-way forwards at the camp and during the first three months of the NHL regular season.
“Specifically our forwards, we’re looking for guys that are good in both ends of the rink,” Yzerman said. “If you’re going to make this team, we want you to be good in both ends of the rink. We can’t be hesitant to put a player on the ice.”
Forward Jarome Iginla, who’s right at home in the Saddledome as captain of the Calgary Flames, said it “totally makes sense” that the coaching staff and executive will be on the lookout for players who can get it done both offensively and defensively.
“Their evaluation isn’t really just based on this,” Iginla said of the four-day evaluation camp that finishes up with a Red-White scrimmage on Thursday night at the ’Dome.
“You’re not going to make it or not make it in the three or four days, but they’re going to watch during the year. What’s very important to them when it does come time is being responsible and being able to be good positionally and be part of the structure.”
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