Lack of Leafs no big deal

ALSTRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- It's called Team Canada, but Canada's biggest hockey market isn't represented.

There's not a single Maple Leaf on the team, either on the ice or on the coaching staff.

General manager Steve Tambellini says while he's sensitive to the Toronto market, Team Canada can simply not allow such considerations to come into play.

"Our job any time we've selected a team, whether it has been the World Cup, Salt Lake City, or the world championships has always been to take the best players available," he said.

It's a philosophy that was imposed when Wayne Gretzky became executive director of Team Canada prior to the 2002 Olympics.

DROPPED EGOS

During the selection process, Gretzky admitted to having a soft spot for Sean Burke, the goaltender for his Phoenix Coyotes.

But when the final roster decision was made, Burke was left out.

"The ego is dropped and decisions are made on what's best for this team," Tambellini said. "When the people who are selecting the team do that, the strength of the group is so strong, and Wayne really set that tone from Day One.

"Everybody saw that decisions were made for the best of the group."

But couldn't a token Leaf have been selected as a fourth-liner or penalty killer?

"At the end of the day I have to go to (Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson) and say, 'Bob, this is what we feel is the best group to win for Canada,' " Tambellini said.

"Whether we have five Maple Leafs, five Canucks, or five Canadiens, that's not the issue."


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