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July 12, 2004 - Yzerman out of World Cup, Gretzky picks Lecavalier to replace him

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Yzerman out of World Cup, Gretzky picks Lecavalier to replace him

Mon Jul 12, 1:16 AM ET


(CP) - Vincent Lecavalier (news) will replace the injured Steve Yzerman (news) on Canada's team for the World Cup of Hockey, joining Tampa Bay teammates Brad Richards (news) and Martin St. Louis (news) after all.

Canadian Press Photo


Team Canada named Lecavalier to the team Sunday after Yzerman told executive director Wayne Gretzky he would not be ready for the Aug. 30-Sept. 14 tournament. The 39-year-old Detroit Red Wings (news) captain suffered an eye injury in the playoffs and hasn't yet decided whether he will return for another NHL season.

"Steve has indicated that he will be unable to participate in the World Cup of Hockey this summer due to his injury situation and that he felt that he would not be ready to be at the level of conditioning required," Gretzky said in a statement released by Hockey Canada on Sunday evening.

Lecavalier, the first overall pick in the 1998 NHL entry draft, got the call over centre Keith Primeau (news) of the Philadelphia Flyers (news), who is still feeling the effects of a concussion he suffered in the playoffs.

Sources indicate Lecavalier's selection was a unanimous choice with Team Canada's management (Gretzky, Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini) and coaching staff (Pat Quinn, Jacques Martin, Ken Hitchcock and Wayne Fleming).

Lecavalier, 24, was a surprise omission when Team Canada first named its 26-player roster May 15, but he didn't let it affect him as he helped lead the Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship. He had 16 playoff points (9-7) in 23 games after putting up 66 points (32-34) in 81 regular-season games.

Training camp for the World Cup starts Aug. 20 in Ottawa and Gretzky may have another player to add before then if veteran star defenceman Rob Blake (news) of the Colorado Avalanche (news) can't go because of a shoulder injury. Team Canada expects an update on his condition in early August.

Scott Hannan (news) of the San Jose Sharks (news), Jay Bouwmeester (news) of the Florida Panthers (news) and Bryan McCabe (news) of the Toronto Maple Leafs (news) are among the leading candidates to replace Blake if he can't go.

Gretzky said recently he was confident that superstar centre Mario Lemieux (news) would be ready to go. The Pittsburgh Penguins (news) owner/player is recovering from season-ending hip surgery.