(TORONTO) (CP) -- Hockey Canada learned Monday that defenceman Ed Jovanovski would be unavailable for next month's Olympics, the bad news didn't have Hockey Canada brass reaching for the panic button.
With Bryan McCabe of the Toronto Maple Leafs and several other capable replacements waiting to step in, Team Canada will still enter the tournament with one of the best defensive teams.
|Bryan McCabe will look to bring his big shot to the Olympics. |
McCabe, tied for the NHL's lead in scoring despite missing the last nine games, was earlier named to Canada's backup squad and will likely be promoted to replace Jovanovski.
"Maybe he was worthy of being one of the starting seven in the first place,'' said Canadian coach Pat Quinn, who also coaches the Maple Leafs. "He would be a fine addition.''
It's a case of one player's loss being another's gain.
Jovanovski will undergo abdominal surgery on Wednesday and will still be recovering during next month's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
"It's hard news for Ed and his family and for us,'' Canucks vice-president Steve Tambellini said from Phoenix on Monday night. "On the other hand, I'm sure he's relieved he can take some action now and have some timetable to get back and play for us.''
Jovanovski, 29, will be lost for between six and eight weeks, but Tambellini didn't want to comment on reports he could be gone for the rest of the NHL season.
"Let's go one step at a time,'' said Tambellini, who also is the Canadian Olympic team's director of player personnel. "We'll see how the procedure goes Wednesday. Hopefully he'll be back.''
Jovanovski, a member of Canada's gold-medal winning team at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, will have the surgery performed in Philadelphia.
Canada's first game at the Olympics will be Feb. 15 against Italy.
Enter McCabe, who is expected to return to Toronto's lineup in Tampa Bay on Tuesday after missing the past few weeks with a partial groin tear.
"It's going to be exciting,'' McCabe said Monday after Toronto's 4-2 victory in Florida. "It's certainly a bonus. I wasn't expecting it. Obviously, everyone wants to go over there and play. With the chance to go over there, I'm a lot more excited. It's going to be a lot of fun.''
Quinn will be happy to have him in Turin.
"You hope that nothing happens, but it has happened,'' Quinn said. "I think it's fine. Bryan has been looking forward to playing. He's been having a terrific season and he's been a good player for a while.''
The Team Canada management will hold a telephone conference call this week to discuss several player issues.
The Olympic team is also awaiting a decision from Anaheim on defenceman Scott Niedermayer, who has a small tear in his knee that may require arthroscopic surgery. The Mighty Ducks have given him the option to decide when he wants to have surgery.
Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf and Scott Hannan are all in the mix to be added to the Olympics team, either on the backup squad or as a replacement for Niedermayer if necessary.
Jovanovski, a three-time NHL all-star, has six goals and 22 assists in 39 games this year.
The Windsor, Ont., native missed 11 games after straining his groin Dec. 28.
He returned to the Canucks lineup last Monday and played just over 22 minutes in a 4-0 loss to St. Louis.
The next night he re-injured the groin and left the ice after just four minutes in a game against Columbus. He returned to Vancouver on Wednesday.
"I'm sure he (Jovanovski) is extremely disappointed not to have a chance to play for Canada at the Olympics,'' said Tambellini.
"On the other hand, that's one of the reason why we had training camp in the summer time and listed 81 players to be able to utilize the depth that Canada has.
"We'll make some decisions as we go along. We'll have something done prior to the start of the Olympics.''