Canada calls on Stevie Y

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:50 AM ET

With jersey in hand and a smile on his face, Bob Nicholson made history yesterday.

Twice.

First he confirmed the worst-kept secret in Team Canada lore by introducing Steve Yzerman as GM of the 2007 world championship squad.

Then he unfurled the jersey.

"For the first time in the history of Hockey Canada we're going to give Steve Yzerman a jersey and it's not going to be no. 19," laughed the Hockey Canada president at his Calgary headquarters.

For the record, the digits under Yzerman's name: 07.

"I've always had an interest in management -- even when I first came into the league I really followed the moves teams made as well as player development," said the recently retired Detroit Red Wings icon and one of the game's greatest leaders.

"This is something I've always looked forward to as far as a management role with an organization and my first opportunity to put a team together. I know I share the passion for international hockey the majority of Canadian people have. I take this role very seriously -- I'm not just toying with this."

Nor did he as a player, proudly representing Canada at the 1983 world juniors as well as three world championships and two Olympics.

Pointing out he planned on leaning heavily on Hockey's Canada's bountiful resources on the coaching, scouting and management side, Yzerman was then thrown the obvious questions: Did he foresee Wayne Gretzky coaching his world championship squad in Moscow this spring and would he be interested in replacing The Great One as Olympic GM for 2010 in Vancouver.

"The first goal is to kind of feel out people's interest in being involved as coaches should they be available," said the ever-diplomatic Yzerman, pointing out many coaches like Gretzky may not be available for the April. 27 tourney as their teams are still in a playoff hunt.

"As for 2010, I would be thrilled to be part of the Olympic program in the future but I think it's premature to even think of that -- I think it's a real stretch to think I might take over from anyone at that point. I expect Wayne, Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe to be involved in some capacity and if I was able to contribute to the team in any capacity I'd be thrilled."

Yzerman will now dedicate himself to piecing together Canada's entry in the springtime tourney held in Moscow this year. Delving into the management side of the game headfirst as a Red Wings VP, Yzerman has already spent time scouting prospects across North America and Europe all season.

"He's been doing a lot with Detroit -- he's right in their hockey and business meetings, observing everything and spending a lot of time with (GM)Ken Holland and (assistant GM) Jim Nill," said Nicholson, who also gave Lanny McDonald his first management shot in a similar role years back.

"It's so nice to have these type of assets hanging around. They don't ask for anything -- they just want to give back and that's good for hockey."

What isn't so good for hockey is the possibility the first worlds to be held in Canada may be moved from Quebec City/Halifax for 2008 if certain progress isn't made within the next day or two.

"We're encouraged by what we've heard the last 48 hours and while we certainly want to host it in Quebec City, we'll have a decision and announcement in the next 24 hours," said Nicholson.


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