QUEBEC CITY -- Team Canada has new uniforms.
But any chance of that being a story didn't last long after revealing new uniforms in Toronto yesterday. A few hours later, Team Canada arrived here to begin training camp for the first IIHF World Hockey Championships ever to be held in Canada. The story wasn't the uniforms but the players who will be wearing them.
In addition to the likes of Shane Doan, Eric Staal, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis, who were named to the team prior to the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, 10 players, were named by general manager Steve Yzerman, stacking a lineup with stars that included Ryan Getzlaf of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators and Ed Jovanovski of the PhoenixCoyotes.
Also named were No. 3 goalie Mathieu Garon of the Edmonton Oilers, defenceman Dan Hamhuis of the Nashville Predators, Brent Burns of the Chicago Blackhawks and forward Chris Kunitz of the Ducks as well as alternate forward Sam Gagner of the Oilers and Calgary Flames draft pick Mark Giordano, who spent the year playing in Russia.
In addition to Gagner, who was the MVP of the Canada-Russia Super Series prior to NHL training camps opening last fall, three other players from that team, forwards Kyle Turris and Cory Emmerton and defenceman Logan Pyett joined the team for training camp only.
One hole remains on the blue-line. Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames has decided to recuperate after coming off a hard-hitting series against the San Jose Sharks.
"He's a bit banged up," said Hitchcock.
The additions and home ice advantage will make Canada the favourites to win this tournament.
It may be the best team Canada has ever sent to this tournament other than the lockout year in 2005 when all the teams were obviously much deeper than normal years when top players were still competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Not all the players were here yesterday, and a few won't be present for the first exhibition game against Finland here tomorrow night.
But all are expected to be in Quebec City for the second game Monday against Russia when camp breaks and the team relocates to Halifax for the beginning of group play against Slovenia a week today.
While GM Yzerman wasn't here yesterday, wishing to catch the first game of the Detroit Red Wings series before joining the team today, Hitchcock spoke at length to the roster additions.
"I really like the makeup of this team," he said. "It has a great blend of youth and experience.
"The team was put together to take advantage of the smaller Canadian ice surface. There's a lot of skill and a lot of tenacity."
Now the trick is to bring the team together in a very short period of time.
"We're going to cram one month into one week," said Hitchcock. "I think it's really daunting for us to pull this thing together quickly."