Four Sens named to Olympic list

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. -- It's one goal down, one goal to go for Jason Spezza.

The Senators centre is on a long list of 81 players -- that includes Dany Heatley, Wade Redden and Chris Phillips -- who are under consideration to play for Canada at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy in February.

Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky completed the list, which will be submitted to the IIHF during a meeting with staff members Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe, Marc Habscheid, Pat Quinn, Jacques Martin and Ken Hitchcock next Tuesday.

The list will be primarily used by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to conduct random drug testing.

The final roster must be submitted by Dec. 22.

"Absolutely, a player of Jason Spezza's stature and ability has a chance to play for Team Canada. He has just been terrific and he's a guy that we're going to be keeping an eye on," Tambellini, Canada's director of player personnel, said yesterday.

"It doesn't matter whether it's the World Cup or the world championships, there are a lot of players who want the opportunity to play for their country. He is a guy we're going to be looking at, there's no question. Jason should be considered because he's played on the international stage before."

As for Heatley, there was concerns about whether he was fully recovered from knee and eye injuries going into the season, but it hasn't shown on the ice.

"I'm a big fan of Dany Heatley's and what he brings to the program," said Tambellini. "He has played well for us and he was the MVP of the world championships. We know what this guy can do."

Naturally, Spezza, who has made it his goal to play for Canada, was thrilled to hear the news.

"I would hope I would be on that list," said Spezza, who was back on the ice yesterday after being troubled by a calf injury he suffered against Boston on Saturday. "I know there's a lot of great players in Canada and they've got some tough decisions to make. All I can do is work hard and make it tough for them (to leave him off the team)."

Now, that the players have been identified, the staff will begin keying on the talent they want to watch closely. Tambellini, Lowe and Habscheid will watch players in the Western Conference, while, Quinn, Martin and Hitchcock are going to be in charge in the Eastern Conference.

Gretzky, of course, has the final say, but he'll be getting a different look this year behind the Coyotes bench.

"There are a lot of players in Canada and even when you make a 60-player list you could keep going," said Tambellini. "We have weekly conference calls to discuss where things are at and what we're doing.

"What we're trying to do right now is identify where guys fit in. We've got a system in place on how we're going to watch people. Obviously, (Gretzky) is going to get a different look this year being behind the bench, but that's going to be good because it gives us a different perspective."


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