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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canada takes top talent to Spengler

But team has to find chemistry in a hurry

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DAVOS, Switzerland -- The current incarnation of Canada's Spengler Cup roster is stacked, star-studded and could be its best-ever on paper.

Just don't call them a team yet.

Although the Canadians are drawing most of the hype with big names like Jason Spezza, Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Ryan Smyth, they are a favourite with one distinct disadvantage.

"We're a dream team, but we're not really a team yet," head coach Doug Shedden said Tuesday. "We got here on Sunday, and now we have to come together very fast."

First played in 1923, the Spengler Cup annually pits hosts HC Davos and Canada against four European club teams in a six-day tournament that grips fans across Switzerland.

"You can really feel the mystique of this tournament," Tavares said. "The history, the crowds ... it's a special time for this city."

While every other team is getting a boost from locked out NHLers playing in Europe, Canada's is the only roster that hasn't played together yet this season.

But Shedden is confident he will get the best out his impressive lineup.

"I use a system where my team wants the puck and wants to make the skill plays," said Shedden, who is also the coach of the talented Swiss team EV Zug. "I have the two top scorers in the league, we're a fast-skating team, and if (Canada) can find its chemistry, we'll be just as successful."

Shedden spotted some of that chemistry in Canada's only full practice before the team's Boxing Day opener against Alder Mannheim, the top team in the German league.

The trio of Spezza (Ottawa Senators), Tavares (New York Islanders) and Sam Gagner (Edmonton Oilers) are discovering a special flow together, while Boston Bruins teammates Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin are set to reignite their explosive chemistry.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 26, 2012 C2

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