SUN Hockey Pool

'This is the next best thing'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Two and a half out of three ain't bad.

As expected, Senators Wade Redden and Dany Heatley were named to the Canadian Olympic team yesterday, while bubble boy Jason Spezza was awarded a spot on the three-man taxi squad that will also go to Turin and provide injury insurance.

Spezza admitted to being "a little" disappointed for not making the 23-man roster that will be out to win a second straight Olympic gold medal, but acknowledged the opportunity that comes with being on call.

Carolina centre Eric Staal and Toronto defenceman Bryan McCabe are also on the reserve list.

"You want to play, you always want to be a player, you never want to be sitting on the sidelines," said Spezza, who entering last night's games was tied for fourth in NHL scoring with Heatley and Staal.

"But this is the next best thing. To be there and to be around these guys, I'm sure I'll learn a lot. And with injuries you have to be ready. You never know what's going to happen.

"Neither Staal or I were there at the orientation camp, and we both started the year off good, so it's getting recognition. Any time you're part of team Canada, it's exciting. I'm sure they'll make us feel like we're included on the team. It is exciting to be around all those guys."

Heatley, who visited Italy last summer, said he had butterflies leading up to yesterday's announcement, even though most figured he was a lock to make the team.

"I'm excited. It's an honour to be there. I love playing for Canada," said Heatley, who clicked with 2005 World Cup MVP Vincent Lecavalier in Canada's most recent international success, but will be making his first Olympic appearance.

"We're the defending champ, we've obviously got to be the favourite. We know that. Anything less than gold will be unacceptable."

To succeed, players will have to fill their roles. Heatley realizes his.

"I do what I do," he said. "I'm offensive, I score goals. Obviously, I'll try to do that over there."

Redden, along with Calgary's Robyn Regehr will be part of a veteran-laden defence that has five holdovers from the team that won gold in Salt Lake City four years ago. He's also pumped about Canada's chances.

"It looks like a great team," Redden said. "There's a lot of new faces from last time around, but there are a lot of great players on the team and I'm looking forward to being there with them.

"There's no question the depth that Canada has. It's great to see a couple of other guys from (the Senators) going, too. Obviously those two guys have had great seasons thus far and deserve the nod also. It looks like a real good team and we have a great chance of winning."

Senators defenceman Christoph Schubert also officially received the good news yesterday that he will be playing on the German Olympic team. Schubert has previously represented his country at three world championships, the World Cup and the 2002 Olympics.

"I'm pretty happy about it, I think we have a pretty good team," said the 23-year-old rookie before going out for a celebratory dinner with Flyers defenceman Dennis Seidenberg, who was also named to Team Germany yesterday.

"We have seven NHL players and (former NHL defenceman Uwe Krupp) is on the coaching staff ... maybe we can pull some surprises this year."


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