Syvret making most of his chance

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It's all about seizing the moment. All London Knights defenceman Danny Syvret needed was to get his foot in the door with the Canadian junior hockey team, then it was up to him to prove he belonged.

He's done that -- and more -- as he's gone from being the seventh defenceman to getting a regular shift and playing on the power play at the world junior hockey championship.

Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer runs Canada's defence and he pushed for Syvret to be at the selection camp in Winnipeg.

"I think he's made me look good. I don't think there's any doubt about that," DeBoer said yesterday.

Hockey Canada scouting director Blair Mackasey had watched Syvret, but sometimes another opinion can go a long way, especially when head coach Brent Sutter coaches in the Western Hockey League and couldn't see Syvret play.

Also, when you haven't been drafted by the NHL, red flags go up. Other than 17-year-old forward Sidney Crosby, who will go first in the 2005 draft, Syvret is the only undrafted player on the Canadian team, and the only non-WHL defenceman.

"It works against you for sure," DeBoer said of Syvret's lack of NHL status. "Whenever we're picking these teams obviously you look at the history of these kids, so definitely there was some baggage he carried with him before we got a chance to get him on the ice with Brent for him to see him first-hand.

"So Danny's overcome a lot to get to this point and you have to give the kid full marks."

Syvret said when he looks at Canada's blue line and sees the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Cam Barker, Shawn Belle and Braydon Coburn, all first-rounders, "I guess every once in a while I have to pinch myself to realize I'm here."

But that's not to say he's intimidated.

"Not at all. If anything I think it's a bit of a motivator to be the only non-drafted player."

Syvret is holding his own with his teammates and in international competition.

"Whenever we talk about him the words that come to mind are intelligence and composure," DeBoer said. "And he has to have those attributes because he doesn't have the size or some of the physical tools as some of these others kids.

'He's got to find his edge elsewhere and that's his edge."

Syvret is six-foot-one, 183 pounds, while the others range from six-foot-one to six-foot-five, 205 pounds to 223 pounds.

But DeBoer has no worries putting Syvret on the ice.

"He's a guy that you feel comfortable putting out there and in this situation it's very important because these kids have a short time period to gain the coach's confidence.

"I think Danny has a little bit of an advantage because I happen to know him and like him, but he's also earned his way here."

Before joining the Knights in 2002, Syvret spent two seasons in junior B where there's no centre line, which eliminates the two-line pass. DeBoer said that played into Syvret's hand.

"One of his attributes is his passing and his vision for the ice," DeBoer said. "When he goes back for the puck he's the type of guy who has the ability to find a guy 80 feet away and put it on his tape."

Syvret is also acutely aware of the danger of a forward slipping in behind the D.

"In junior B, pretty much all they do is try to stretch a guy behind the D," he said. "Those two years really saved me coming in here."

With NHL scouts checking out the undrafted European talent at this tournament, Syvret is bound to be noticed.

He sees it as another opportunity to showcase himself.

"It's the best players in Canada and the best players in the world, so it's good for teams to see me at this level," he said.

Again, it's about seizing the moment.


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