August 25, 2004
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have plenty of players to cheer for during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
The Leafs will be represented by six players in the tournament and, of course, Pat Quinn will be coaching Team Canada.
Quinn looks to lead his team to a repeat performance of winning the gold, just like at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake.
The Leafs are represented on Team USA with Brian Leetch and Ken Klee; Team Sweden has Leafs' captain Mats Sundin and goalie Mikael Tellqvist; Team Czech Republic has Tomas Kaberle; Team Finland has Aki Berg.
All six players will have a prominent roles.
Team Sweden will be most dependent on their Blue & White countrymen. Sundin has played exceptionally well for Sweden in the past and you can expect him to lead the Swedes offensively. In the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Sundin finished tied for third in tournament scoring with seven points and he was also named a First Team All-Star.
| Wayne Gretzky wanted Pat Quinn behind the bench again. |
Much of the Swedish team's success could hinge on the performance of Tellqvist, considering the deminishing skills of Tommy Salo. While not being a starter in the NHL with the Leafs, the 26-year-old has played in many international competitions for Sweden and has played extremely well.
He led Sweden to the silver medal at the 2003 World Championships and he is neck and neck with Salo for the No. 1 spot. To start pre-tournament action, Tellqvist made 17 saves as Sweden defeated Slovakia 2-0.
The other country who will rely heavily on its Maple Leafs will be Team USA.
With Leetch and Klee on the backend, they bring a great deal of international hockey experience between them. Leetch will be the quarterback on the American powerplay, look to lead the rush and he will obviously play a regular shift. In his first pre-tournament game against Canada, Leetch had two assists in the 3-1 USA victory.
Klee will play his usual solid defensive game that fans in Toronto saw night after night last season, his first in Blue and White. The Americans have eight strong defencemen, but have been hit with the injury bug so it looks like Klee will be a big part of the defensive scheme.
Tomas Kaberle will help form a very strong back line for the Czech Republic. He will play his usual offensive game of skating the puck out of his zone and making outlet passes to teammates. Tomas will most likely form a pairing with older brother Frantisek of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Aki Berg will be the only Maple Leafs representative on Team Finland. Berg has put on his courtries colours on numerous occasions, but this will be his first World Cup of Hockey. He will be a big part of the Finnish defence who like to play it tight, which makes the big presence of Berg a big factor.
Although the Maple Leafs don't have players on Team Canada there is still plenty of Maple Leafs to cheer for throughout the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.