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Canada loading up for the Spengler Cup

May stack team with locked-out NHL stars

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CANADA could be sending quite an impressive team to the Spengler Cup.

With the NHL's announcement Monday that all games through Dec. 30 have been cancelled, the possibility of locked-out players wearing the Maple Leaf over the holidays in scenic Davos, Switzerland increased.

Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Patrice Bergeron and John Tavares are among the Canadian players who have spent the lockout playing in the Swiss league and would be eligible to compete in the historic club team tournament. Hockey Canada has been in touch with all of them.

"These are top-end guys that would obviously put us in a good situation with our overall team makeup," said Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada's vice-president of national teams.

Brooks Laich and Michael Del Zotto could also be available along with Matt Duchene, who recently signed with Ambri-Piotta after spending a couple of months in Sweden.

However, Pascall is facing the same dilemma as his colleagues who are currently assembling the country's world junior team. He needs to prepare for a Plan A and Plan B since it's possible the NHL lockout could end just before Canada faces Adler Mannheim on Dec. 26 in the tournament opener.

The final will be played Dec. 31.

"We're kind of going day by day," said Pascall.

The Canadian team isn't expected to name its roster until just before Christmas because of the uncertainty brought on by the NHL work stoppage.

Each year, the team is largely comprised of Canadian-born pros based in Switzerland along with a handful of guys from other European leagues and the American Hockey League. The tournament is considered the oldest in hockey -- it dates back to 1923 -- and features the Canadian entry, host HC Davos (which could feature past Canadian Olympian Joe Thornton) and three other European club teams.

Canada last won the event in 2007, when it had Curtis Joseph in goal.

If the NHL lockout in't been solved by the end of the month, the pool of Canadian players would arguably be the best the country has ever sent. During the 2004-05 lockout, Hockey Canada elected not to include NHL players on the team.

Seguin has been among the best players in all of Europe this season with a league-leading 23 goals in 24 games for EHC Biel. Tavares (Bern), Bergeron (Lugano) and Spezza (Rapperswil-Jona) have each produced more than a point per game and boast extensive international experience.

The prospect of sending them all to the Spengler Cup is an enticing one for Hockey Canada.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 C6

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