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World Cup

Steven Stamkos finally representing Canada

Broken leg kept Lightning forward out of 2014 Sochi Olympics

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Steven Stamkos is savoring his first chance to represent Canada in a best-on-best tournament as a professional.

The Tampa Bay Lightning forward looked like a lock to get his first chance at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, but he broke his leg in Nov. 2013 and didn't recover in time to take part despite a frantic rehabilitation schedule.

When he found out on the eve of the Olympics he wouldn't be going to Sochi, he left on a vacation.

Canada wound up winning its second gold medal in a row in men's hockey.

"After rehabbing 4-5 hours a day, I kind of just wanted to get away," Stamkos said Monday. "I caught the gold medal game. It was a party that you wish you were there with the guys. I think I was in the Cayman Islands. A lot of Canadians down there too, so the game was on everywhere. It was tough not being able to play on that team with all the hard work I put into it, so that's why I think this tournament and playing on this team is a little more special."

But Stamkos is healthy and will play for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He said he likes the World Cup format because it is more inclusive than the Olympics, world championships or previous World Cups.

"This is probably a tournament where you have all the best talent from around the world in one tournament," Stamkos said. "There's usually guys left out that their countries don't make it, whether it's the Olympics or the world championships or the previous World Cup.

"You look at the North America team and Team Europe, and there's a lot of players who might not have got the opportunity to play in a tournament like this. You really do have the majority of the best in the world playing in this tournament. I'm not sure you could say that in any other format that's been played before, so I think that's unique and special in its own right. I think the quality of the hockey is going to be the best we've seen in a long time."

Stamkos, who had surgery for a blood clot near his right collarbone in early April, returned late in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He stopped taking blood thinners after the season and tests showed "everything was great."

PUT ME IN, COACH: Team Canada forward Tyler Seguin said a big reason for his country's success in the past has been the willingness of the players to accept whatever role they are given.

"I think everybody came in here with their egos checked at the door and ready to accept the role they're going to play," Seguin said.

Did he care if he played wing or center?

"It doesn't matter," he said. "Put me on 'D.' I won't be good, but I'll play it."

LINE COMBINATIONS: Here is the way Team Canada coach Mike Babcock had his line combinations and defense pairings configured for practice on Monday:

Brad Marchand - Sidney Crosby - Patrice Bergeron

John Tavares - Ryan Getzlaf - Steven Stamkos

Logan Couture - Jonathan Toews - Tyler Seguin

Matt Duchene - Claude Giroux - Joe Thornton

Corey Perry

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Shea Weber

Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty

Alex Pietrangelo - Brent Burns

Jay Bouwmeester

THAT LOOKS FAMILIAR: At one point during Team Canada's practice on Monday, they used a 1-3-1 alignment for a power-play drill.

It was interesting because one of the people watching practice was Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher. He used the 1-3-1 power play with great success at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship at Canadian Tire Centre, where he was an assistant coach to Pat Quinn.

Team Canada's power play went 21-for-42 in that tournament on its way to winning its fifth gold medal in a row.


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