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Shoe on other foot for Hockey Canada's Prendergast

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 5:56 PM / 2012 World Junior Championship

By Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

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Shoe on other foot for Hockey Canada's Prendergast
Kevin Prendergast is happy with the 41 players coming to Hockey Canada's training camp for the 2012 World Junior Championship, but there are a few other players he'd love to get his hands on.
CALGARY -- Kevin Prendergast is no stranger to deciding if a player will receive the opportunity to play in the World Junior Championship.

Lately, he's just been on the other side of the equation.

A former executive with the Edmonton Oilers, Prendergast now serves as Hockey Canada's head scout, a post he's held since September 2010.

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But before he joined Hockey Canada, Prendergast was an assistant general manager and vice-president of hockey operations for the Oilers. With his role in Edmonton, Prendergast had a say on whether or not Edmonton would release its eligible players for the World Junior Championship.

As Canada's head scout, he's now in charge of deciding who earns the opportunity to try out for Canada's World Junior entry while hoping he gets some help in the form of NHL teams serving up some of hockey's best young talent for Canada.

In other words, the shoe is on the other foot for Prendergast.

"Obviously I'm on the other side going, 'Geez, I want him,'" he said. "Being in Edmonton was a little bit different."

With his past experience, Prendergast has a better understanding than most when a team makes the decision to keep or release a player to Hockey Canada for the World Junior Championship.

The organization already has been told Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, all of whom still hold junior eligibility, will not be released for the tournament.

However, there are other players he's hoping to have back for the tournament. Anaheim Ducks forward Devante Smith-Pelly, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly, Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier, Columbus Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen and Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson all retain eligibility for the WJC.

"If you look at a kid like Nugent-Hopkins, there's not a chance that they would even entertain loaning him to us," Prendergast said.

That’s not to say the Oilers, or any other team that doesn't release a player for the tournament for that matter, aren’t supporters of Hockey Canada.

"We gave a lot of thought to loaning players," Prendergast said. "Injuries have a lot to do with it. You have a fan base you have to appease. It's a business they're in. They're in the business of winning. There are lots of things negative and positive that go into it."

Still, Prendergast is hoping, but not counting on, a little help from his friends in the National Hockey League.

"If we get them back, it's like a Christmas present," Prendergast said. "If we don't, we just move on."

And that's a decision that will be out of his hands.
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It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.

— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks