Suspicious minds at work
Brodeur in? Jagr out?
By TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN
TORONTO -- A suspicious person might have noticed Martin Brodeur spent an entire 20 minutes in front of his locker talking to the media about his bandage-wrapped injured left hand - all the time while leaning on the aforementioned injured appendage. A suspicious person might have noted the Czechs climbed off their plane from Stockholm, with a stop in Greenland, casting immediate doubt if Jaromir Jagr might play and wonder about the gamesmanship aspect which might be involved.
There did seem to be at least some concern here yesterday that the goaltender who won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games might not be in net tonight as Canada faces the Czech Republic in the World Cup of Hockey semifinal.
There appeared to be at least a possibility that the goaltender who has an 8-0-1 win-loss-tie run going for Team Canada since he replaced Curtis Joseph at the Olympics, might be replaced by Roberto Luongo.
Brodeur, who has stopped 97 out of 100 shots in this tournament, apparently mishandled a long shot with three or four minutes to go in the Slovakia game. He didn't practise the next day and took an MRI that indicated there was no damage other than a bruise.
Brodeur didn't face any shots on his glove hand yesterday and left practice after 20 minutes.
"I know (that) creates a lot of questions,'' said Brodeur. "When you're not out there the whole practice, there's definitely a concern.
"It's a sprain,'' he said. "A sprain, a bruise, a jam ... it's all the same.
"It was a shot from the red-line. I just mis-caught it. It was just a normal dump-in.
"Right now it's a little tender. It's all about how it feels in the morning.''
He says he's not taking any special medication.
"Just ice,'' he said. "Just to make the swelling go down. The MRI showed nothing was broken or torn.
"If I'm not able to play, Roberto Luongo will be in there. My job is to be ready to be in net and play. I've only missed three or four games my whole career, but I'm not going to take a chance for Team Canada not advancing because of my ego. Finishing the job is very important to me, but I'm not going to jeopardize the whole team.
"But I'm getting ready as if I'm going to play. I'm going through the Czech shooters in my head. I really want to play.''
Executive director Wayne Gretzky figures Brodeur will be in there.
"He's improved a lot since yesterday. We have great trainers working on him to get him ready. We talked to Luongo and told him to be ready. There's not going to be any kind of panic involved in the decision.''
Luongo came in to replace an injured Sean Burke at this exact same point - also against the Czechs - at the world championships in Helsinki two years ago. He led Canada to a second straight gold at the world championships this past spring in Prague.
"Just get ready. That's what I was told,'' said Luongo. "I was told they'd make the decision on game day. I'm preparing to go in just in case. I went through it at the world championships two years ago with Sean Burke. It's not something I haven't done before.''
As for Jagr, the Czech star took the entire practice and extra time as well here yesterday.
"It's tough because I was three days without being on ice. With the travel ...
"It was OK today. I stayed out there a little longer to do some extra work.
"I want to play and I think I'll be ready.''
As for Redden, who suffered a shoulder injury a week ago and replaced by Jay Bouwmeester after Scott Hannan had replaced Ed Jovanovski after the tournament opener, the Lloydminster native completed the entire practice and stayed late.
Gretzky probably telegraphed that one.
"The decision would be tough with Hannan and Bouwmeester having played really strong. Quite frankly, it's hard to take them out.
"Wade is still a little sore. If he's not 100% we don't have to rely on 75%. We don't feel a need to put Wade in unless he's 100%. Right now he's not 100%.''
At the end of the day the best guesses would be:
A suspicious person might come to the conclusion that everybody involved succeeded in getting the media through the day without actually focusing on the actual game.