Myers, Smyth, Del Zotto join Team Canada
Mark Messier has beefed up his blue-line for the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation World Hockey Championship, adding young defencemen Tyler Myers and Michael Del Zotto.
The general manager also added a Canadian staple — Ryan Smyth of the Los Angeles Kings — and Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals up front.
Smyth will be appearing in his eighth world championship — and first since 2005 — and will be reunited with Craig MacTavish, his long-time coach in Edmonton.
"I'm really excited about it," MacTavish said in an interview. "You never know in this game whether you'll get that opportunity again. When you do get the chance to work with players you've had a lot of respect for over the years, it's sure welcome."
Smyth, 34, won world gold with Canada in 2003 and 2004 and Olympic gold at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.
"I thought with the makeup of the team and the youth in the team, he'll be real valuable," said MacTavish. "The leadership and experience that he's had at these tournaments, he can pass on valuable insights to the young players.
"It is a little bit different of an animal than we're used to in the NHL."
Smyth can also chip in offensively. The native of Banff, Alta., had 22 goals and 53 points in 67 games for the Kings this season.
Laich joins on the heels of a bitter Washington defeat to Montreal. The native of Wawota, Sask., set career highs with 25 goals and 59 points this season.
Myers and Del Zotto are fresh off their rookie NHL seasons — Myers with the Buffalo Sabres and Del Zotto with the New York Rangers.
The six-foot-seven-inch Myers is a finalist for the Calder Trophy after putting up 11 goals and 48 points in 82 regular-season games with the Sabres.
The 20-year-old is a dual citizen because he was born in Houston and moved to Calgary when he was 10. He made the decision to play internationally for Canada as a junior.
Del Zotto appeared in 80 games for the Rangers this season, putting up nine goals and 37 points. The 19-year-old is from Stouffville, Ont.
Messier will be taking a young team to Germany that features six players who are 20 or under. Myers and Del Zotto join forwards Steven Stamkos, Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Evander Kane.
Messier has been busy working the phones, trying to fill out his roster. He has 18 confirmed players — seven defencemen, 10 forwards and one goaltender.
The players are scheduled to fly to Europe over the weekend and will play an exhibition game on May 4.
Canada opens the world championship with a game against Italy on May 8 in Mannheim, Germany.
With files from The Canadian Press