Bouwmeester gets call
Replaces injured Pronger
By MARIO ANNICCHIARICO -- Edmonton Sun
Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester was named to Team Canada after Chris Pronger pulled out due to injury. (Bruce Bennett Studios)
Jay's day has arrived.
Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester was selected yesterday to replace injured St. Louis Blues captain Chris Pronger on Team Canada's blue- line when the World Cup of Hockey camp opens later this week in Ottawa.
PRONGER -- A SURPRISE LOSS
Pronger, out with an undisclosed injury, was a surprise pullout yesterday.
"We are disappointed that Chris could not participate, but this gives a great opportunity to one of Canada's rising young stars," Canadian executive director Wayne Gretzky said in a statement. "When you can replace Chris with a player of Jay's calibre, it shows you how much depth we have in this country."
What Canada loses in experience it gains in enthusiasm as the 20-year-old Edmontonian again dons the Maple Leaf.
"It's a pretty neat opportunity," Bouwmeester said yesterday after receiving word from Gretzky and Hockey Canada brass. "It's a great honour and a chance to play with and against the best players in the world."
Bouwmeester was a member of the last two gold-medal winning World Championship teams and has represented the country three times at World Junior Hockey Championships.
"You watch the Olympics and realize just how exciting it all is," he said of taking the next step. "You look at the names -- there are a lot of great players with lots of experience."
Pronger becomes the fourth high-profile Canadian team player to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. Ed Belfour (back), Rob Blake (shoulder) and Steve Yzerman (eye) are all out.
All four played for the Canadian team that won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
Pronger's loss is Bouwmeester's gain.
"It's quite an honour," Jay's mom Gena said yesterday. "We're really happy for him. I think he's pretty excited, although he doesn't always show it."