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Captain Canada Challenging for Spot

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Kings forward Ryan Smyth holds the Canadian record for most games played (78) wearing the Maple Leaf.

CALGARY -- Even in August, with the sun beating down on a notoriously brief Calgary summer, Ryan Smyth is the last player off the ice.

There's no unspoken message here, no display of icy one-upmanship, just a 33-year-old guy head-over-heels in love with his job.

"I just love being on the ice, being around the guys, being at the rink," said Smyth, one of the newest Los Angeles Kings, during this week's Canadian 2010 Olympic orientation camp at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

"When you're out at the rink, you've got no worries. You just go out and play and have fun, and this game is all about fun. If it's not fun anymore, you should stop showing up."

Clearly, Smyth can't get his fill. Because if his team doesn't make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or even if it's a first-round victim, Smyth has historically heeded Hockey Canada's call for international volunteers. Smyth suited up for Canada at the World Championships for six-straight seasons, from 2000-05, snaring two global titles and wearing the captain's "C" for five of them. He was also a member of the country's Olympic team in Salt Lake City and Turin.

Smyth holds the Canadian record for career international games (78) wearing the Maple Leaf -- and his nickname, to no surprise, is "Captain Canada."

"That's the excitement about being here, and knowing it's a challenge," Smyth said. "Every day you step on the ice, from now until they make the decision, is an opportunity. It's something you don't want to take for granted.

"Being one of 46 here is something you've just got to go with. It's not going to come easy. There's so many young players coming up and taking jobs.

"You've got to be on top, ready and focused. You have to work for everything. I do, and I thrive on that."

Shane Doan has an equally enviable international resume -- 33 points in five tours of World Championship duty, including two gold medals, one Olympic Games and a turn as hero in the 2004 World Cup, scoring the game-winner in a 3-2, championship final win against Finland.

And yet the 6-foot-2, 216-pound center, who's spent his entire 13-year NHL career with the Winnipeg-Phoenix franchise, knows he too is in tough.

"I don't think anybody thinks they're a slam-dunk for this team," said Doan, who notched his second 30-goal season with the Coyotes last winter. "You could honestly argue that 60 to 70 guys could be on the team.

"That's the way it is. The great part of playing for Hockey Canada is, they have so much depth."

Author: Todd Kimberley | NHL.com Correspondent

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