Like he was never away

Terry Jones, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

CALGARY -- OK, other countries may have most of their very best players. We don't. Fine. Other nations have players who have been playing all year. Half of ours haven't.

But none of them have Marty Brodeur to stand on guard for thee.

Or Roberto Luongo on deck.

Or Marty Turco in the hole.

True, not one of them arrived for the start of Team Canada's training camp here yesterday having seen any rubber lately ...

But is there any goaltender in the world who can come out of the box and be as great as Brodeur after not having stopped a shot in months?

Is there another who can come off the bench like Luongo to win the gold medal game at the IIHF World Hockey Championship two years ago or the semifinal against the Czech Republic at the World Cup of Hockey back in September?

Incredible

Brodeur was a study here yesterday as he put on the pads and for the third time this season, go in the nets looking like he'd never been away.

He's incredible that way.

"I believe he's the best goaltender in the world and he's proved it over and over again. It's just amazing how he can go in there and do what he does without stopping a puck in ages. Just a natural, I guess," said Calgary Flames Robyn Regehr who played with him in both the World Cup of Hockey and the 10-games-in-14-day Worldstars Tour of Europe in December.

"That's what special talents can do," said Kris Draper, who is also playing with him for the third time this year.

Brodeur shrugs.

"It's the same situation as the World Cup of Hockey. I hadn't seen a puck for four months. I don't think it's that big a deal."

With the exception of an outdoor game in the rain in Hamilton, Brodeur hasn't stopped a puck since December 21 in Poland when the Worldstars Tour came to an end.

Brodeur didn't hesitate about playing for Team Canada. Not for a second.

He said he's disappointed in some of the World Cup and Olympic members of Team Canada who said no but didn't dwell on it.

"I never thought not to come. To see some of the players bowing out was kind of hard. But everybody here has come to win and embrace it," he said.

Brodeur has a chance to become a member of an exclusive club of Canadians -- a chance to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, World Cup of Hockey (or Canada Cup) and a World Hockey Championship.

Last year in Prague Scott Niedermayer completed the grand slam with this team, joining Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and Rob Blake -- all of whom are noticeable by their absence here this year.

"I talked to Igor Larionov about that. He did it with Russia. Not many guys have won all of them."

He says he hopes the fans will embrace the team because they're Canada instead of booing them because of the NHL lockout.

"We're here making a commitment to Canada. We're not making a commitment to the NHL. I like to compete. This is something really exciting in my life. I'm going to give it everything I have.

"This is the greatest thing I can do in 2005." 


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