The last two-plus months have been long and anxious for Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot.
After getting struck in the jaw by a Tomas Vincour shot on Feb. 9, was forced to miss the remainder of the season and spent the early portion of his post-injury days consuming food in either liquid or paste form. The jaw was broken and had to be wired shut – and for a guy who regularly uses his voice to communicate on the ice with his teammates, condensing his thoughts into text-message form was another added frustration.
But those days are over, and Methot could not be more thrilled. He was recently named to Team Canada’s roster for the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship at the event beginning May 4 in Sweden and Finland.
Methot did not have to wait long to get the call from Hockey Canada, either. Assistant general manager Dave Nonis (also assistant GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs) contacted Methot shortly after the Blue Jackets’ season ended on April 7.
“They called me the next day,” Methot told BlueJackets.com. “(Nonis) asked if I would like to play, and that he was extending me the invite to play for Team Canada. Immediately my reaction was ‘yes’ and I would never turn down the opportunity to play for my country.
“Being a Canadian, that’s something very important to me.”
This year’s tournament will be Methot’s second consecutive appearance in the Worlds, as he suited up for the 2011 club that was led by current St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock and former Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel. That group finished in fifth place, losing out to eventual gold-medal winning Sweden in a spirited tournament held in Slovakia.
Joining Methot on the Canadian blue line are familiar names such as Dion Phaneuf, Jay Bouwmeester, and P.K. Subban. Devan Dubnyk (Edmonton Oilers) and Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes) are slated to be the two goaltenders for head coach Brent Sutter.
“I know (Hockey Canada) was asking a couple other guys, but I don’t know who else will be there,” Methot said. “We’re pretty deep regardless and there are a lot of players to choose from this year.
“Last year, my role was on the third defense pair playing about 13-18 minutes per game. I enjoyed the role they gave me, and I’m willing to play the same role again. Anything they ask me to do, I’m ready.”
Despite having not played a game since February and needing time to get back into game shape, Hockey Canada knows what it’s getting in the 26-year-old Ottawa native: a dependable blue liner that has shown he can play big minutes against opposing teams’ best players. His steady game enables him to play with a variety of defense partners, and will certainly afford Sutter and staff plenty of options.
With his return to the ice imminent, the next exciting step for Methot is proving to himself and everyone else he is back to full health.
“I told them I hadn’t been skating a lot and hadn’t played a game since February,” Methot said. “That was my only concern but they don’t seem to be worried about that. We have a full week of practice to work through systems and get things ready.
“Some people wonder how I didn’t play at end of the season and now I’m going overseas. The doctors didn’t have me cleared at the end of the year and it was too risky to try at the time. They wanted to me to work on my training and get my strength back.”
Methot also told BlueJackets.com he will wear full protective head gear (including a cage) at the World Championship to protect his jaw.
Like Johnson and Atkinson, Methot said the opportunity to join a team full of NHL talent and compete for a gold medal made for an easy decision. Team Canada’s roster should be completely filled out in the next week or so, when the management group extends its final invitations to players whose teams have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I’m good to go,” Methot said. “I’ll be well-protected the whole time and there are no concerns or issues with my injury. Being a Canadian, this is something that’s very important to me.”