Cab may pick Spezza up for Turin

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:12 PM ET

Jason Spezza might be taking a taxi all the way to Turin, Italy.

And Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky's job may have gotten a lot easier when it was learned yesterday that the International Ice Hockey Federation will allow each team in the Olympics to carry a three-man taxi squad.

So even if Spezza isn't named to the 23-man roster, it would appear he'll be a lock to be added as a replacement in case of injury.

"Obviously, you want to go to play, but I'm willing to go in any role," said Spezza. "This just provides another opportunity."

Some flexibility

With Team Canada's roster to be announced Wednesday in Vancouver, there has been plenty of anticipation about who will be on the main 23-man roster. The taxi squad gives each team room for flexibility.

Gretzky and his staff have been keeping a close eye on the Senators' Spezza, Carolina's Eric Staal and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. Toronto's Bryan McCabe, Tampa's Dan Boyle and Calgary's Dion Phaneuf are considered to be on the bubble on the blue line.

It would make the most sense for Canada to bring Spezza, Staal and Phaneuf to get them ready for 2010 in Vancouver. Crosby has been excellent this year, but it wouldn't hurt him to have to wait.

"I don't know how we're going to use these extra players because I haven't spoken to anybody with Hockey Canada," said Team Canada coach Pat Quinn. "I think it's a good thing that we're going to have these guys available if we need them. That's going to help us to have those guys in case we have injuries.

"I would think you'll have to tell these players that if they're going to come, there might be a chance they may not even get to play, but we've got to keep them ready."

This should cut down on the controversy surrounding the announcement, because even if these guys don't get a chance to play, they'll be available and able to soak up the Olympic experience.


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