Team Canada hopefuls aim to make mark
Senators prospect added to roster for juniors' summer development camp
OTTAWA - The brightest of Canada's young hockey stars won't attend the national junior team's development camp, but plenty of others arrived in Ottawa on Friday.
They'll all be looking to shine as they try to leave a lasting impression on Hockey Canada's staff in the hope of earning an invitation back to the final selection camp in December.
"It's a privilege to get invited to a camp like this," centre Logan Couture of the OHL's Ottawa 67's said earlier this week. "You just try and be the player that you are on the ice, and the person you are off of it."
The 19-year-old Couture is among the 47 players invited, although only 44 will take to the ice at the University of Ottawa sports complex for daily workouts beginning Saturday.
Steven Stamkos, the first-overall pick in June's NHL entry draft, withdrew from the camp earlier in the week because he's at the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospect camp in Victoria.
Meanwhile, it was announced that Zach Boychuk of the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes and Cody Goloubef from the University of Wisconsin will attend the first two days of camp but won't take part in on-ice sessions while recovering from injuries.
The trio was replaced by forward Louie Caporusso of the University of Michigan, an Ottawa Senators prospect; forward Eric O'Dell of the OHL's Sudbury Wolves and defenceman Nick Ross from the WHL's Kamloops Blazers.
The players will participate in daily practice sessions in addition to red-and-white intrasquad games Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights under the watch of Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray and coach Benoit Groulx of the QMJHL's Gatineau Olympiques.
Groulx, who takes over behind the bench from Craig Hartsburg (now the Senators coach), will be joined by assistants Dave Cameron of the Mississauga-St. Michael's Majors of the OHL and Willie Desjardins of the Medicine Hat Tigers as Canada pursues a fifth straight gold medal.
They'll get a chance to familiarize themselves with the players in the mix before their respective seasons get underway. They'll continue to keep an eye on things throughout the fall.
"You know when you coach this team that expectations are high," Groulx said in a recent interview. "It's my goal to put the best team on the ice and be as successful as we've been in the past.
"The difference between winning and losing is very small. Most of the time we've been able to win because of the attention to details."
Couture, a San Jose Sharks prospect, is among several players, along with Ottawa native O'Dell, 67's defenceman Tyler Cuma and Olympiques forward Paul Byron, who are fighting for a spot at playing in the world junior tournament in their own backyard.
Canada opens the competition at Scotiabank Place, home of the Senators, on Dec. 26 against the Czech Republic.
However, Couture said the players can't take anything for granted.
"It would be exciting to play a world junior championship in Ottawa, in the city I play in, but I'm sure the coaches have their ideas of what they're looking for," he said. "They're just going to treat everybody the same."
With Stamkos, who plays for the OHL's Sarnia Sting, expected to stick in the NHL this season, it's up in the air whether he'll be available to the junior program at all, which opens up opportunities for others.
Although it will be tough for any player not at this camp to figure in the final selections, the door won't be completely closed, according to the coaching staff.
"The (guys) that are coming, I don't think there's any guarantees," Cameron said earlier this month. "If you were on this team last year, there's 10 guys that have a chance to come back, I'd say they have a foot up.
"But the other thing is, the worst mistake you can make is assuming, so we're going to get a look at them. We're going to be watching right up to the first of December and if we missed somebody or somebody rises to the occasion from September on, they'll be on our radar and have an opportunity."
For more information on the Team Canada summer development camp, log on to www.hockeycanada.ca/ottawa2009.