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June 29, 2005 - Hockey Canada turns to familiar faces

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Hockey Canada turns to familiar faces

Globe and Mail Update

The official announcement comes tomorrow, when Hockey Canada unveils its list of 36 players that will try out for Canada's 2006 men's Olympic hockey team. As in 2002, there isn't really a lot of suspense associated with the preliminary roster.

Wayne Gretzky, the team's executive director, generally doesn't create a lot of waves by making controversial choices. Moreover, based on Canada's success in both the last Olympics and the last World Cup, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to jettison players that have succeeded in the past.

More problematic will be the task for coach Pat Quinn - to pare down the roster to 23 players who will represent Canada in Italy next year, assuming the National Hockey League does go ahead with plans to shut down operations next February to permit best-on-best competition at the 2006 Olympic games.

The preliminary roster of 36 names, according to a report on sportsnet.ca, contains 29 of the 30 players associated with the 2004 World Cup team — the 26 that actually played, plus three others (Rob Blake, Chris Pronger and Steve Yzerman) who were selected to the team, but bowed out before the tournament began because of injuries.

Only goaltender Ed Belfour, who played on the 2002 Olympic team and was originally chosen for the 2004 World Cup team, is absent from the list.

The other seven spots go to four members of Canada's 2005 world championship team (Rick Nash, Dan Boyle, Chris Phillips and Marty Turco), plus Mike Peca, a member of the 2002 Olympic team, Keith Primeau, a member of the 1998 Olympic team, and Alex Tanguay, who has been mentioned for all these teams, but never made it past the preliminary camp for the 2002 Olympic team.

Presumably, Hockey Canada will also reserve the right to add any player to the Olympic roster, who might have a breakout year in the first half of the 2005-06 NHL season. Sidney Crosby, according to Gretzky, is not a candidate at this time.

Altogether, nine members of the 2002 men's Olympic team didn't make the preliminary roster this time around (Belfour and Curtis Joseph in goal; Al MacInnis on defence; and Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk, Brendan Shanahan, Owen Nolan and Paul Kariya up front).

Nolan and Kariya were part of the Elite Eight last time around — players pre-selected six months before the actual tournament, as required by the International Ice Hockey Federation in order to help with the marketing of the event.

Of those nine, Fleury was forced into retirement after a league-imposed suspension, while MacInnis is expected to retire because of an eye injury.

The Globe And Mail's projection for a final 23-man Olympic roster:

G (3): Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Jose Theodore.

D (8): Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Rob Blake, Wade Redden, Scott Hannan, Ed Jovanovski, Jay Bouwmeester.

F (12): Mario Lemieux, Rick Nash, Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, Brad Richards, Vince Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Simon Gagne, Dany Heatley, Kris Draper, Ryan Smyth.