Three Leafs to play for Canada
Kessel turns down invite from Team USA
TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
|Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf shoots against the Canadiens at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on April 9, 2011. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - The lure of a possible gold rush was enough for three Maple Leafs to agree to take a trip to Slovakia.
Not so for one of their American teammates.
Captain Dion Phaneuf, rookie netminder James Reimer and defenceman Luke Schenn will play for Canada at the world hockey championship. But Phil Kessel has said no to a similar invitation from the U.S.
“I’m kind of worn out,” Kessel said on Monday. “It has been a long season. I'm going to take a break.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs and I'm tired."
Kessel was one of five Leafs — the others were Schenn, Clarke MacArthur, Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak — who played in all 82 games during the season.
Kessel has represented his country on numerous occasions, including the 2010 Winter Olympics.
For Reimer, the invitation from Dave Nonis, the Leafs executive who is doubling as Canada's general manager, was too sweet to pass up. The 23-year-old was 20-10-5 with a .921 save percentage and without him the Leafs would not have come as close as they did to securing a playoff berth before they were eliminated from contention.
“I’m stoked,” Reimer said. “I couldn't turn that one down.”
Ken Hitchcock will coach Canada at the tournament, April 29-May 15. The associate coaches will be Peter DeBoer, who was fired Sunday by the Panthers, and Scott Arniel.
“It’s an honour to have that opportunity to represent Canada,” Phaneuf said. “Last time I was there it was in Moscow (in 2007) and we won. It was a lot of fun to be part of that. I'm looking forward to going over there to try to win a gold medal.”
Said Schenn: “When you get the invite, you've got to go. Your first goal is to be in the NHL playoffs, but if you can continue playing and represent your country, that's a good option.”
Kulemin (Russia) and Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus) confirmed they will participate. Mike Komisarek will play for the U.S., and could be joined by Mike Brown.
MacArthur, meanwhile, should learn in the next day or two whether he is part of Canada’s plans.
Three members of the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs farm team, have been invited by their countries to play: Korbinian Holzer and Marcel Mueller of Germany and Juraj Mikus of Slovakia.