During the week, word was Todd Bertuzzi would join Team Canada for the world hockey championships. Certainly, the hulking 6-ft. 3-in., 245-lb. Vancouver Canucks forward would have provided plenty of noise on and off the ice.
Instead, the 23rd and final roster spot was filled by Scott Walker.
Instead of the circus that would have arrived with Bertuzzi, the brain trust went in a completely different direction with the 5-ft. 10-in., 195-lb. -- and very low key -- Nashville Predators captain.
"I don't think there'll be any comparison," said Walker, who arrived yesterday at Father David Bauer Arena for his first session with his new teammates.
"We're two different people and two different players. Obviously, I'm not Todd Bertuzzi but I'm going to do my job and what I can."
One can argue adding Walker instead of Bertuzzi makes more sense at this time.
For starters, Bertuzzi hasn't been reinstated by the NHL and is therefore still ineligible for IIHF-sanctioned events. A hearing is reportedly slated for the coming week but, without clearance, it made no sense for him to join the others at training camp, which winds up today.
And since he hasn't played since the March 8, 2004 game in which he attacked Steve Moore and subsequently received his banishment from the NHL, probably no player needed the camp more than Bertuzzi.
Team Canada GM Steve Tambellini said he had simply reached the point where he had to move in another direction.
"Todd needed his timeline to be ready and the timeline wasn't with the timeline we needed to get ready," Tambellini said.
In Walker, the Canadians add a combination of speed, grit and skill. Walker appears to be reaching his peak.
In the 2003-04 season, he equalled a career high with 25 goals and set new personal standards in assists (42) and points (67).
He also guided the Predators to their first playoff berth.
Moreover, he has twice played for Canada at the world championships. He was an alternate captain at the 2001 tournament, in which he tied for first in team scoring with six points for Canada's fifth-place squad.
He was also part of the fourth-place team in 1999, when playing for Canada at the world championships wasn't the trendy thing to do.
"I'm 31 and you look back at the times you didn't get to go or didn't go for one reason or another and start to regret that. Time slips by and you look back and say, 'Why didn't
I go?' " said Walker.
"I'm really happy and proud to be going."
How happy is Walker? He was asked to join the team Friday afternoon, awoke to fly from Toronto at 7 a.m. Eastern time yesterday, arrived in Calgary at 9 a.m. local time and was on the ice within 90 minutes.
"I felt good," he said after practice.
"Obviously, it was a hard practice
I jumped in on but that was the way to do it.
"Sometimes, when you don't have much time to get in shape, it's better to go hard right away."
Though Walker hasn't played during the lockout, save for a half-dozen senior league games in Ontario, he has stayed in shape.
Curiously, one of his recent skating buddies is ... Todd Bertuzzi.
"He really supported me and was happy
I was going," Walker said.
"He would have loved to come but those things happen."