Having experienced a hockey season that began with the NHL lockout, was interrupted by a horrific eye injury and then a playoff disappointment, you can understand Dany Heatley looking for a little enjoyment. Fun he hopes to find at the world championship.
Heatley, the Calgary product, gained an early start on Team Canada's pre-tournament training camp by skating yesterday at Father David Bauer Arena.
Tomorrow, most of the rest of the charges who'll don the Maple Leaf at this year's tournament in Austria will join him for a five-day camp prior to heading across the country for a pair of exhibition games against the U.S. before going overseas.
Heatley said it won't wash away the disappointment from the lockout but will put a little joy back into the game.
"I don't think it salvages it. It was very unfortunate and it hurt everybody, this year," Heatley said.
"This kinda brings a little fun to the end of the year, a chance to play some very good hockey against a lot of great countries.
"It's a good chance to finish off the year."
Potentially on quite a high.
Like Team Canada, Heatley is going for a third straight world gold during the tournament that runs April 30 to May 15.
As are Roberto Luongo and Ryan Smyth.
Among those named to the 22-man squad were a plethora of holdovers from the gold-medal winning World Cup team, such as Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr, Martin Brodeur, Ed Jovanovski, Wade Redden, Patrick Marleau, Shane Doan and Joe Thornton.
With the likes of Jarome Iginla, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and the Tampa Bay trio of Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis bowing out for various reasons, some new blood to the program will be infused by the inclusion of Mike Fisher, Brendan Morrison and Rick Nash.
Much as been made about who won't be playing but GM Steve Tambellini said it's important to move forward with the guys who want to be there.
"It's a strong group, it's a pumped group," he said.
"And I'm excited that we have 15 players from the World Cup team. They've all played in big games under pressure situations."
One roster spot has been left open and speculation is it's being held for Vancouver winger Todd Bertuzzi, who needs to be reinstated by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman after the suspension handed following his attack on Steve Moore late in the 2003-04 season.
Tambellini said the bruising power forward, who has applied for reinstatement, would be given strong consideration if he is cleared to play before the tournament starts.
"If Todd was available, he should be a candidate," he said. "At the moment, Todd has not been reinstated and is unavailable to our team.
"However, we are monitoring the situation with (agent) Pat Morris and seeing where that ends up."
Tambellini said another forward will be added.
Thornton, Nash and Sheldon Souray won't take part in the Calgary camp but will join the squad in time for the exhibition games in Quebec City and Halifax.
Heatley, who was part of the loaded AK-Bars Kazan squad that was unceremoniously bounced early from the Russian league playoffs, has recovered from the eye injury he suffered in November.
But the pupil of his left eye is noticeably larger than in his right.
"It doesn't affect me on the ice. It's just very, very fine detail," he said.
"Other than that, I have no problems playing."