Just try telling Alex Auld
that it wasn't all worth it, despite the amount of time he spent warming the bench at the 2001 IIHF World Junior Championship in Moscow. The way Auld saw it, he had one of the best seats in the house.
"I went into (Team Canada's selection) camp as sort of a longshot and had a really good camp and was able to get a spot," the Ottawa Senators goaltender said of his lone WJC experience. "I only played one period in the tournament but just to be a part of it was pretty special.
"You grow up watching (the world juniors) and there is such a history of it in Canada. It's such a cool thing to be a part of it and it was my first real experience with international play and playing overseas and all those things."
The real drama for Auld was in the process. Team Canada had pencilled in returning goaltender Maxime Ouellet as its No. 1 guy for the 2001 WJC. All that was left during its final camp was to make a decision on a backup.
"They told us it was between me and Pascal Leclaire (now a Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender) to be the backup," said Auld. "We each played the full (final) scrimmage and they said whoever plays better makes the team."
After that came the waiting game to see who might avoid the dreaded early morning phone call.
"We were roommates and we knew the phone call was coming," said Auld. "So we just sat there and it was nerve wracking. He wanted to answer the phone. I let him and he hung up the phone and said 'congratulations' to me.
"I just sat there for 10 minutes stunned in my room, not knowing what to make of it. It was definitely an awesome experience."
Canada dropped a 5-2 decision to Finland in the semifinals that year but rebounded to edge Sweden 2-1 for the bronze medal. It was a Canadian team that also included two of Auld's current Senators teammates, Jason Spezza
and Dany Heatley.
"You spend a couple of weeks with the guys and you're in such close quarters and everything," Auld said about the world junior experience. "It's almost like friendship for life that happens pretty quickly. Even coming here (to Ottawa) and having known Spezz and Heater (from the 2001 WJC) was pretty neat. I hadn't really seen them since then, other than playing against them, and they're guys that I got along with and were friends with.
"There are a number of guys I've played with throughout my career that I played with at that time. When you play for a lot of teams (in the NHL), you end up knowing guys all over the place. It just adds to that, I guess."