TORONTO - - Getting invited to last summer’s Canadian Olympic team orientation camp whetted Francois Beauchemin’s appetite to wear a sweater with a red Maple Leaf.
Now the old-school Toronto defenceman will get a real chance, named along with 14 mostly youthful NHLers as the first wave for Team Canada at next month’s world championship in Germany. They include Rocket Richard Trophy finalist Steven Stamkos and Calder Trophy hopeful John Tavares.
“No pressure,” Beauchemin, 29, said jokingly Friday of the team following in the golden path of Sidney Crosby and the Canadians in the Winter Olympics. “But when I was at the camp with some of the best players in the world, it had me really excited. This is a young team, but we still want to win gold.”
Beauchemin will be joined on defence by Brent Burns, Mark Giordano, Marc Staal and Kris Russel, with Chris Mason in goal. Augmenting boy wonder scorers Stamkos and Tavares up front are Corey Perry from the Olympic team, Evander Kane, Jordan Eberley, hardscrabble types Steve Downie and Steve Ott and veteran Ray Whitney. Rene Bourque and Rich Peverley join Beauchemin in making their first national team appearances.
With first-round NHL playoff casualties still to be added, GM Mark Messier can register up to 25 players, but only 22 including two goalies can dress for each game.
Beauchemin will be opposing at least one other Leaf, with Christian Hanson named to Team USA. American Phil Kessel is also a possibility, pending his recovery from a minor abdominal tear. email@example.com