Boys are back

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

CALGARY -- Together again.

They come from different NHL teams, but in some cases it's been so long since those teams have played, this will be the third time they've worn the Team Canada jersey since they last wore their NHL uniforms.

Roberto Luongo, Brenden Morrow, Shane Doan, Dany Heatley, Kirk Maltby and Ryan Smyth are beginning to feel more comfortable in these silks than their normal duds.

And with 15 players from the September series, the World Cup of Hockey, on Canada's team to the IIHF World Hockey Championships - which went to mini-camp here yesterday - there's a familiarity here which Hockey Canada has developed in the past few years which has paid off in an Olympic gold medal, back-to-back world championship gold medals and the World Cup of Hockey gold.

"They're the same guys and some different guys - but mostly the same guys," said Heatley.

"I think this camp is great. It gives us a chance to gel and get to know guys we haven't met."

They're not all here yet. Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, Chris Phillips and Sheldon Souray, who are all just back from playoffs in Europe, won't join the team until next week in Halifax.

Smyth, the four-time captain of the team, will remain with his wife, who just gave birth, until Sunday when he'll come down from Edmonton to join the team for the final practice session prior to heading to Halifax and Quebec City to play the two pre-tournament games in Canada before the team heads overseas.

"It's great for us to get back on the ice together, practice and come together as a team as quickly as possible, to bond as a team again," said goaltender Martin Brodeur.

Maltby, who sat in the stands as an extra for the World Cup of Hockey, says he felt very much part of that team and delighted to be made part of this one.

"You never get too confident about being selected to one of these teams," he said.

"I can't say enough about having a chance to be part of these experiences. I didn't play in the World Cup but I really learned a lot. It was as much a learning experience not playing as playing."

The one guy most haven't worked with before is the head coach.

"I had him for two years in Kamloops," says Robyn Regehr about Marc Habscheid. "I'm sure he hasn't changed much. He's a farmer from Saskatchewan. How much can he change," said the Calgary Flame, who knows one when he sees one, being from Rosthern, Sask.

"When I heard he had the job I was very excited for him," added Regehr, who says he remembers Habscheid "having torn a few strips off me."

Regehr says Hockey Canada does an amazing job bringing young players into the team who, a couple of years later, are able to show up for another gathering like this to feel right at home.

"That really helps," he said.

Nineteen of the 22 players have international experience for Canada.

"A lot of players have played for Canada in U-17 and World Juniors and fit in very well even if they haven't been with everybody else. Canadian players in general adapt very well."

Being together again is an extension of winning together, Regehr maintains.

"When you keep winning together it helps a lot, too.

"Most of these players, on one team or another, have had a lot of fun together and won a lot together."


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