Cup brings out smile in Methot

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Marc Methot is minus a front tooth.

He realizes it makes it hard to keep the "hot" in his surname with a gap in his smile that big.

"I was playing shinny a couple of weeks ago in Ottawa and the puck tipped up off (Senators forward) Jason Spezza's stick and hit me right in the mouth," the 24-year-old Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman said. "I can't touch it for three months. I've accepted that I'm going to look like a hillbilly for a while.

"I'm all right with that."

It's only noticeable when the large blue-liner grins. But that's something he's been doing a lot while skating with old London Knights pals and fellow hockey pros at the Western Fair Sports Centre ahead of next week's Euro Can Cup.

"It was fun in Ottawa," the six-foot-three, 225-pounder from the capital region said, "but this is way more structured. I think it's a good way to get ready for training camp."

The Blue Jackets and Methot avoided arbitration last month by agreeing to a new two-year pact. That deal provides a warm and fuzzy security blanket for goalie Steve Mason, who was quick to dish off the glory to the Columbus defensive corps for its work in front of him last season.

So shouldn't the Calder Trophy winner reward that helpful crew for his near-Vezina campaign with a dinner just like a successful quarterback picking up the big cheque for his offensive line?

"He better," Methot said. "I know he was excited about getting a new Mercedes this summer. He was texting me all about that. Seriously, he deserves everything he gets. He played so well and we, as his teammates, are all just happy for him."

That "we" in team will again include forward Rick Nash.

"Just to have one of the best players in the game re-sign, that's so huge for us," Methot said. "You can't put a price on that."

It would've been priceless if this Knights' Euro Can Cup lineup included the club's two biggest names up front: Nash and Anaheim Duck Corey Perry. Both are due Monday at the Canadian Olympic orientation hockey camp in Calgary.

The rest know it'll take a ton of chemistry to top Swiss club Zug, Austria's Linz and Germany squad Munchen at the Cup.

"A lot of us played junior together but other than Sammy (Gagner) and Marc (Pouliot) and I, who have played together with the same team, you have 20 guys from different organizations," said forward Rob Schremp, a restricted free agent who has yet to re-sign with the Edmonton Oilers. "So chemistry is the biggest thing. You need to find it quickly or it's going to be tough."

In a perfect world for organizer Pat Curcio, the Cup under-writing Knights and charity Shoot For A Cure, the Knights will play well enough to reach the Monday, Aug. 31, final at the John Labatt Centre. For a group looking to sell more tickets and packages, interest in the championship tilt could be make-or-break time.

"It's going to be unbelievable hockey," Curcio said. "There's going to be so much skill on the ice . . . it'll be a treat for fans."

It'll also be nail-biting time for NHL teams and the Knights, who have Nazem Kadri (Toronto), Michael Del Zotto (New York Rangers) and Zac Rinaldo (Philly) added as roster depth. No one got hurt when the Knights took a team to Europe for pre-season action last summer but there's always that risk.

Curcio left it up to each player to ask permission from their pro club to participate.

"Teams like Calgary and Edmonton were great about letting their players take part," Curcio said. "We didn't get everybody but we got a good number. Many teams were . . . supportive of what we're trying to do."

Because Shoot For A Cure is a registered charity, NHL contracts can't be voided from any Cup fallout. Still, some agents believed taking out extra insurance is a good idea. "I don't believe people should live life in fear," Kadri's rep Brian MacDonald of Siskinds said. "You can get hurt working out at the gym. The player wants to play and it's a good opportunity so you don't get in their way."

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EUROCAN CUP

What: Pro hockey tournament featuring four teams -- Knights alumni, Zug (Switzerland), Linz (Austria), Munchen (Germany)

When: Aug. 24-31 at the John Labatt Centre

Tickets: Individual games are $27 (including tax) and available online at www.johnlabattcentre.com, Knights box office and phone (519) 681-0800; four-game ($98) and eight game packages ($192) by box office or phone only.

Web site: www.eurocancup.com


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