Before the Calgary Flames take to the ice tomorrow night to face the Los Angeles Kings, four players will find out whether they cracked the roster of Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey team.
While Jarome Iginla is a virtual lock to earn one of 13 forward spots on Team Canada when it’s unveiled at 10 a.m. tomorrow, defencemen Jay Bouwmeester, Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf are just a number of a large group of talented blue-liners vying for one of seven spots on the roster.
“I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” said Bouwmeester following practice at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday. “We’ve got a game tomorrow. I think the way we’ve been playing at home, we’ve got more important things to focus on right now. It’s just one of those things. If it happens, great, but if not, life goes on.”
Regehr said he’s not sure if he made enough of an impression on Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, coach Mike Babcock and the rest of the Hockey Canada brass to make the team.
“There’s really not much I can do,” Regehr said. “They’ll probably pick the best guys playing with the most successful teams is usually what happens. If you get picked great and if not, there’s some positives too in that you can rest up and get ready for hopefully a good stretch run and good playoff run.”
Like Bouwmeester and Regehr, Phaneuf said he’s excited to hear which players will be named to the team tomorrow.
“It would be a great honour to get the opportunity to play for our country here,” Phaneuf said. “We’ll wait and see what happens tomorrow. I feel I’ve had a real good first half and it’s all that I can do. It’s out of my control and right now we sit and wait.”
Flames Head Coach Brent Sutter said that he doesn’t envy the decisions that have to be made to get down to the 23-man roster prior to the Vancouver Olympics in February.
“They’re going to have some tough decisions to make, but they’ll pick the team that they feel the most comfortable with,” Sutter said. “Canada could have two outstanding teams in that tournament, but that’s not the way it works.”
Regardless of which players get picked to play at the Winter Olympics, Sutter said he’s working hard to keep the Flames focused on the task at hand.
“We have some candidates, just not on Team Canada but on other countries, that have an opportunity to play,” Sutter said. “You hope they all get named. That goes without saying, but at the end of the day, we still need to make sure that their focus is here until that time comes.”
Phaneuf agreed with his coach’s assessment of the situation. “My main priority is still the Calgary Flames and that’s been my focus for the first half of the season and that hasn’t changed,” he said. “It’ll be good to hear tomorrow and then you move on and you either get ready for that or you focus on having a real good second half. Either way you’re focused on your team here.” Sarich hits the ice Cory Sarich just wants to put 2009 behind him.
“I’m ready for 2010,” Sarich said after practising with his teammates for the first time in five weeks.
Sarich has missed the last 16 games since suffering a lower body injury during a road game against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 23. He also sat out seven games at the tail end of last season with an ankle injury.
“It’s been a bit of a pain in the rear dealing with a few things,” said Sarich, who started skating again on Dec. 23. “I’ve never really been on the mend before as much as I have this year, but I’m dealing with it.”
While he was happy to see Sarich back at practice, Sutter said he’s not going to rush the veteran defenceman back into the lineup.
“We’re just going to take it day-to-day,” Sutter said. “He hasn’t played in a while. He’s had a tough year to date with some injuries. We’ve got to make sure that when he’s back in the lineup, that he’s good to go and that he can play up to his potential. With how important every game is, we can’t have players that play below what their capabilities are because it affects the team.”
Sarich agreed that he needs to get a few more practices under his belt to get his conditioning and timing back to where they were prior to the injury. “Hopefully, I’ll get back in the swing of things and then I guess we’ll go from there,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back in and maybe alleviate a few minutes from our top guys.”
Boyd leads the charge
While he didn’t score, forward Dustin Boyd had a big impact last night in Edmonton to lead the Flames to a 4-1 win over the Oilers.
With the Flames trailing 1-0 early in the opening frame, Boyd dropped the gloves for a somewhat surprising fight against Andrew Cogliano of the Oilers.
“It was just something to get the team going,” said Boyd, who accepted Cogliano’s challenge and held his own in the fight at 2:03 of the first period. “I’m not normally a fighter. I hadn’t fought since junior (with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors) and they weren’t that good.”
Sutter said that it was a pleasant surprise to see Boyd provide a spark for the Flames. “He obviously did a tremendous job on that,” Sutter said. “We need that energy and we need that enthusiasm from everyone in the room.”
Boyd later drew an assist on Rene Bourque’s game-winning goal at 9:22 of the second period.
Bourque teams up with Goodfish Lake
Flames forward Rene Bourque is supporting efforts to raise money for the new arena and community centre in Whitefish Lake First Nation Number 128 by becoming the Honourary Chair of the Goodfish Lake Recreational Capital Campaign.
“My roots are in the Goodfish Lake Region. I know how important it is to have first-rate recreation facilities when growing up and participating in recreational activities and I feel privileged to be the Honourary Chair of the campaign,” says Rene Bourque.
The reserve is located near Bourque’s home town of Lac La Biche, Alberta. Unfortunately the arena previously located near the town, which had served the community well for over 30 years, burned down in 2005.
The new Goodfish Lake Recreation Centre includes a facility for the trades’ courses for Portage College. The classrooms are replacements for the two-classroom facility that was also destroyed in the fire. The Whitefish Lake Reserve has a long-standing history of service to the oil patch through its successful entrepreneurial businesses such as their garment factory, dry cleaning plant and heavy machinery company. It also owns and operates a gas utility corporation.
“I hope that my support encourages others to get on board, and to become part of a project that will be truly transformational. I urge everyone to get involved and support the centre,” says Bourque.
The Centre will also house a community hall for cultural programs, a community kitchen and café for social events, a fitness centre with a walking track and a child-minding play room.
The new Goodfish Lake Recreation Centre aims to be a model for future facilities of its type in North America. The R-60 dome structure will use 50-75% less energy to heat and maintain constant ice and room temperatures. It will be made of concrete and anchored below the frost line. It is slated to begin construction in the spring of 2010. Quotable... “If anything, it’s a wake-up call. What’s going on here is unacceptable. I’m certainly not going to accept it and I know for sure management and ownership aren’t going to accept it, so obviously the players can’t accept it.” - Coach Brent Sutter in regards to moving Daymond Langkow up to centre a line between Jarome Iginla and Curtis Glencross, while putting Olli Jokinen on a line with Nigel Dawes and Rene Bourque.
“Once you lose a few games, you’ve got to line juggle and try to mix things up and get other guys going. It’s something we’re just hoping we can get some chemistry going tomorrow (against the L.A. Kings) and just build from there.” - Curtis Glencross
“You’ve just got to be mentally prepared no matter who you play with. It was a big win last night (in Edmonton). I think every line played well and Kipper was outstanding. Every game is so crucial. Every game is huge. The standings are so tight. We’ve got to dig in and win some games at home too.” - Olli Jokinen