Spezza may get call

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Jason Spezza could get a chance to play for Team Canada this spring.

Sources say the Senators centre, who is toiling with the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton during the NHL lockout, is at the top of Team Canada GM Steve Tambellini's list to fill the final available forward spot on the roster.

But it's doubtful Spezza, whose Binghamton Senators open the AHL playoffs on Friday, will be the man.

Canada still has time to finalize its roster for the world championships, which begin April 30 in Vienna. But Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, assistant GM Ken Holland, coach Marc Habscheid and Tambellini were scheduled to discuss the matter last night before camp opens today in Calgary.

Team Canada management's preference is to land either Edmonton Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff or rugged Vancouver Canucks winger Todd Bertuzzi, but both have off-ice issues to deal with.

Bertuzzi remains under suspension by the NHL for sucker punching Colorado's Steve Moore last spring, while Horcoff is waiting for his wife to give birth to the couple's first child.

If neither player is available, then Canada could go to Plan B, taking a look at top players in the American Hockey League this season.

Spezza, the AHL's leading scorer, has been mentioned, along with Providence Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, a member of Canada's world junior championship gold medal team.

Though there has been speculation Canada could name its final player today, Tambellini might hold off until the end of the first round of the AHL playoffs if Horcoff and Bertuzzi haven't yet made themselves available.

But there's a good chance Spezza and the Baby Sens, who open the AHL playoffs next Friday against either Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Hershey, could go all the way to the Calder Cup final. That also diminishes the possibility of him heading to Austria.

MIGHT HOLD OFF

"We felt we had 12 forwards with whom we were very comfortable," said Tambellini. "We decided to see where some of these other situations go. We don't have to be up and running the first day of camp.

"There's one to come. I do plan on naming another forward prior to the tournament. We have a few different opportunities. We'll wait this out a couple of days to see what happens."

Bertuzzi is a candidate, but there hasn't been any indication NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is going to lift his suspension.

"If Bertuzzi becomes available, he'll be a candidate," added Tambellini.

"If he is not reinstated, he will not. We're monitoring the situation with his agent Pat Morris.

"We'll wait to see if there's any change in his status. If Todd was available, he should be a candidate. At the moment, Todd has not been reinstated and is not available to our team."


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