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Ball hockey drills give Canada hopefuls a workout

by Dan Rosen

CALGARY -- The cost of insuring the roughly $1.5 billion worth of NHL player contracts here at Canada's Olympic orientation camp was prohibitive, so the players are not allowed to go on the ice. That didn't stop them from getting in a workout complete with drills Monday morning at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park.

The coaching staff broke up the 45 players in camp (Joe Thornton and Claude Giroux were invited but could not attend) into two groups and had them doing ball hockey drills on the Olympic-sized rink, which was covered in boards that resemble an international ice sheet.

The purpose of the workouts was to show the players how Canada plans to play on the big rink in Sochi for the 2014 Olympics and to go over some of the terminology coach Mike Babcock and his assistants will use.

Babcock appeared to be in mid-season form, his voice booming throughout the 3,000-seat arena as he barked out drills and told players where to go with the ball, how to move it, etc.

It was also interesting to see the line combinations and defense pairings that Babcock, Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff and Claude Julien put together. Reading into these is probably a fool's errand, but here they are for your own discussion and debating purposes anyway:


Eric Staal - Jonathan Toews - Rick Nash

Logan Couture - John Tavares - Steven Stamkos

Martin St. Louis - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter

Andrew Ladd - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Marc Staal - Drew Doughty

Dion Phaneuf - Brent Seabrook

Jay Bouwmeester - P.K. Subban

Alex Pietrangelo - Travis Hamonic - Dan Hamhuis

Roberto Luongo

Mike Smith

Braden Holtby


Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patrick Sharp

Milan Lucic - Matt Duchene - James Neal

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Jordan Staal - Dylan Walchuk (University of Calgary)

Duncan Keith - Shea Weber

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Dan Boyle

Marc Methot - Kris Letang

Carey Price

Corey Crawford


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