Tuesday, April 01, 2008

2008 world championship
Canada goes with Hitch

Ken Hitchcock will be behind the bench when Canada looks to become the first host country to win the IIHF World Hockey Championship in two decades.

He's been unveiled as the Canadian coach for next month's event in Halifax and Quebec City. His assistants have yet to be named.
A good choice. This is actually the first time Hitchcock has coached a non-playoff team (for a full season), and will be his first opportunity to take the reins at the world championships.

Normally, early April would be the time I'd be speculating on which eliminated NHLers would be named to their respective country's team, but with the tournament in Canada for the first time ever, the schedule's been bumped back all the way to early May.

That means there'll be an awful lot more teams eliminated from the NHL's postseason, with plenty of players from clubs that lose in the second round able to fly to Halifax or Quebec City.

So consider this an early, early look.

From the 10 to 12 teams likely out of the playoff running, here are a few NHL candidates I'd invite for the various teams:

Canada: St. Louis, Pominville, Roy, Doan, Nash, Boyes, Kariya, Sharp, Horton, Toews, Gagner, McDonald, Jovanovski, Bouwmeester, Keith, Seabrook, Morris, Boyle, Garon, Legace, Leclaire

Czech Republic: Hemsky, Vrbata, Lang, Kotalik, Vasicek, Hanzal, Holik, Olesz, Vyborny, T. Kaberle, Kubina, Spacek, Kuba, Klesla, Z. Michalek, Vokoun, Pavelec

Finland: O. Jokinen, J. Jokinen, N. Kapanen, Bergenheim, Peltonen, Pitkanen, Lydman, Toskala, Lehtonen, Norrena

Russia: Kovalchuk, Frolov, S. Kozlov, Afinogenov, Grebeshkov, Kalinin, Zyuzin, Bryzgalov, Khabibulin

Slovakia: Satan, Handzus, Stumpel, Marcel Hossa, Visnovsky, Sekera, Mezei, Valabik

Sweden: Modin, M. Tjarnqvist, Lindstrom, Karlsson, Enstrom, Tallinder, Tarnstrom, Havelid, Johansson, Stralman, Hedberg, Tellqvist, Ersberg

USA: Kane, Brown, Tkachuk, Mueller, O'Sullivan, J. Blake, Guerin, Halpern, Booth, Stafford, Stempniak, Gaustad, Byfuglien, Gilbert, Hainsey, E. Johnson, Ballard, J. Johnson, R. Miller, Anderson

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At 2:46 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can scratch Bobby Holik off that list as he no longer is eligible to represent the Czech Republic as he isn't a Czech citizen anymore. He only has U.S. citizenship.

The Americans are going to get better and better in these tournaments, given the explosion of young talent there and the fact that most teams ice a young roster in the World Championships. Also, with their U-18 system, young U.S. players will probably be more keen to participate than older generations. I'd expect them to join Canada to create a strong 1-2 punch, making it harder and harder for Europeans to win gold.

At 3:03 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I'm surprised Team Canada didn't try harder to find a bilingual coach, though Jacques Martin and Denis Savard are the only two current NHL head coaches off the top of my head that I can think of that are definitely available. If Vaigneault or Julien is available at the end of the regular season, look for one of them to be added as an assistant with the games being in Quebec City.

At 4:08 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finding a bi-lingual coach means you have to look almost exclusively for a French-Canadian coach and that simply excludes too many qualified candidates. Pat Burns would have been an exception and could have been the man for a short tourney.

At 4:33 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Ebscer said...

Seeing Tallinder and Lindstrom on a line together would be a tad bit intimidating...

At 4:43 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Nick said...

I think you're confusing lindstrom with lidstrom

At 4:58 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rumor out of Sweden is that Toronto Maple Leafs Anton Strålman might go play with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL and make a Calder Cup run and not participate in the World Championships.

At 6:24 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger Cams Habs said...

Has Vincent Lecavalier said no to the Worlds? Curious as to why you didn't list him, James.

At 6:27 p.m., April 01, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

He's hurt and I believe is going to have wrist surgery.

At 7:27 p.m., April 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been wondering/talking about this quite a bit lately, specifically goaltenders for Team Canada.

Pascal Leclaire would be a great choice (being a former Moosehead, Halifax fans would love to see him). However, he's been missing time lately with a concussion. Although I think the prognosis has improved lately...

Mathieu Garon has also been out of the lineup for the past couple weeks with an ankle injury.

Then there are other guys you named like Kalinin, Spacek, Modin, Tarnstrom, Hainsey and J.Johnson who are also missing time right now with injuries.

That's not to say these players won't be ready by the time the games roll around, just if they finish the season out of the lineup, they might be less likely to strap on the skates for something like this.

Apparently a recent Kings game mentioned both Brown and O'Sullivan were planning on playing for Team USA.

I was thinking it might be interesting to see a guy like Jason Williams or Jay McClement on Canada, as those second tier guys who could fill out the lineup.

Eric Brewer is another player who will be missing the playoffs and is part of Team Canada's "system" already.

Though as mentioned, this could all be tempered by the later start of the World Championships.

Halifax would be hopping if the Penguins ended up eliminated early opening the door for the return of the city's favorite son.

At 12:35 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger Valerie said...

Gee, you didn't add anyone from the Sens. Doncha think Spezza might be a nice addition since he'll be available next week?

At 12:49 p.m., April 05, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Red Wings Snapshots on MLive.com is saying that Columbus players Leclaire, Nash and Chimera are expected to play for Canada.


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