Injured Huberdeau, Howden likely to be kept
WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
|Forward Quinton Howden skates during a Team Canada tryout at the WinSport Canada Athletic and Ice Complex in Calgary, Alta., Dec. 11, 2011. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - For Jonathan Huberdeau, hope floats.
Although the Saint John Sea Dogs sniper hasn’t skated in five-plus weeks and is still recovering from a fractured foot, it doesn’t sound like he’s on thin ice to earn a roster spot for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“We had planned to skate Huberdeau, but he’s gone off-site. He’s doing a little swimming, some water recovery work for the foot,” Team Canada head coach Don Hay told reporters Tuesday morning. “He’s progressing really well. We’re happy with his progress.”
Question is are they optimistic Huberdeau will be at full speed on Boxing Day, when Canada officially opens its gold-medal quest against Team Finland at Edmonton’s Rexall Place?
Wednesday is decision day for Hay and his coaching staff, who face the difficult chore of choosing a 22-man roster and sending the rest of the hopefuls home.
And suddenly, Huberdeau isn’t the only guy with an injury asterisk beside his name.
Quinton Howden, one of just four returnees from last year’s silver-medal squad, was crushed by Tampa Bay Lightning loaner Brett Connolly during Monday’s Red & White intrasquad scrimmage and didn’t return to the game.
On Tuesday morning, Hay described Howden as day-to-day with an “upper-body injury.” There’s been widespread speculation the Moose Jaw Warriors winger has concussion-like symptoms.
Prior to selection camp, Huberdeau and Howden were both considered shoo-ins for Canada’s forward group, and although Hay is still mulling his options, it seems likely he’ll keep both around and dial up a replacement if their recovery stalls closer to tournament time.
“We have to make the decision (Wednesday). We’ll put all the injuries into the discussions and think it through,” Hay said. “They haven’t kept extra players around. The policy is that if a player gets hurt, you can bring somebody back before the tournament starts, and that’s happened before with Evander Kane in 2009 (after forward Dana Tyrell was injured in an exhibition game).
“Part of our decision-making is where are the injured players at, what is their history, and what would they add to our hockey club going ahead? All those things are in place.”
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson