Flames turn down World Championship

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:59 PM ET

Team Canada came calling but four Calgary Flames politely declined.

With the world championships getting underway yesterday in Riga, Latvia -- and the Flames out of the NHL playoffs -- Canadian general manager Ken Holland and his associates reached out to a quartet of local players with the hope of bolstering the team's roster.

Olympians Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr were offered invitations, along with Regehr's fellow defencemen Andrew Ference and Dion Phaneuf. All of them said no with a Game 7 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks still fresh on their minds.

Phaneuf apparently played the entire first round with a broken bone in his left foot and a slightly sprained knee. Those injuries kept him from saying yes to a great opportunity.

"It's gonna take some time to get healed," said Phaneuf after clearing out his stall. "I'm not going to go over. It's a tough decision but having some more time to rest will definitely do it better."

Regehr is also feeling the physical and mental effects of a long, gruelling season, not having the luxury of time off during the Olympic break.

"It was a very busy year," said Regehr. "I've been getting some calls from the management over at the world championships but I've decided to decline.

"First of all, there's some bumps and bruises that I wouldn't mind healing up. But also the fact that I just told them I'm not ready to go over there and play. I don't think I would be a help with the way things are right now."

Ference has more on his mind than hockey at the moment and is one of a batch of Flames players who will vacation together next week with their families.

"I have a 10-month-old daughter. I haven't spent a whole lot of time with her this season. It's tough," said Ference, who was still a little stunned he was able to say no to representing his country.

"I never thought I'd turn down an offer from Team Canada. It was actually pretty hard. That's something I take a lot of honour in.

"I have priorities now. I've got to spend time with the family."

Iginla was thankful for the proposal but will leave the leadership in the hands of the young players such as 18-year-old Sidney Crosby.

Crosby scored two goals, including the winner early in the third period, to lift Canada past Denmark 5-3 yesterday in its first preliminary game.

"I went when I was 19 and it was a great experience as it will be for them," Iginla said.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who was upset Team Finland named him to the Olympic squad despite his suggestion a hip injury would keep him from playing, was asked to join the world championship team.

Some hard feelings and the need for more rest will keep him away, too.

"I'm not too happy the way they handled (the Olympic situation). That's one reason for sure, too," Kiprusoff said.


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