Getting to the Hart of Team Canada

CAM MAXWELL, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 12:51 PM ET

Brent Sutter guided Canada's junior squad to back-to-back gold medals, now it's Craig Hartsburg's turn to carry the torch.

Hartsburg, who was an assistant to then head coach Sutter when the Canadian squad won gold in Vancouver this past January, is Canada's bench boss for the upcoming world junior hockey championship and it's up to him keep the pedal to the floor and make it three in a row.

The current bench boss of the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Hartsburg is looking forward to the challenge, even though there are some big Sutter shoes to fill.

"It's going to be a great experience for myself and the whole staff and being a part of it last year, I certainly got a feel for the intensity and emotion," said Hartsburg, a former Minnesota North Stars defenceman.

"Brent and I were certainly on the same page last year in terms of how we wanted to play, so the things we had success with last year we'll try to do again this year.

"But every coach has a different personality and I think the things I believe in are similar to Brent, yet everybody has a different way of saying things or doing things."

For Hartsburg, his philosophy is the team comes before the individual and, when the tournament begins Boxing Day in Sweden, the biggest challenge will be getting all the players to gel and get on the same page.

The squad's selection camp begins tomorrow in Calgary at Father David Bauer Arena, which is when Hartsburg and the 38 invitees will arrive and begin the process of evaluating talent for the tournament as Canada looks to win its first gold on European soil since 1997.

With 11 players from last year's team including Calgarian Dan Bertram and five defenceman invited to the camp, it's likely those players will form the nucleus of the squad.

But nothing is carved in stone because there are many players Hartsburg hasn't seen on the ice.

"Jim Hammett, our head scout, has and he thinks we're going to be fine but we're going to have some tough decisions," he said.

With the returning blueliners and four stellar goalies in camp, including Calgary Flames prospect Leland Irving, the back end of the Canadian team should be solid as a rock.

Calgary Hitmen defenceman Karl Alzner of Burnaby, B.C., looks to be competing for one of two open jobs, assuming the five returnees make the squad.

Calgarian Keaton Ellerby of the Kamloops Blazers is also invited to to the camp.

The selection camp runs until Friday and the first practice goes tomorrow at 6 p.m.


Videos

Photos