Yzerman, Burke headline hockey summit

The upcoming World Hockey Summit will be led by four major icons in the game: Steve Yzerman, Brian Burke, Daniel Alfredsson and Hayley Wickenheiser.

Women's Olympic hockey, player safety to be discussed at world event

Daniel Alfredsson believes some things are worth giving up a few rounds of golf for.

The Ottawa Senators captain leapt at the opportunity to take on a leadership role at the upcoming World Hockey Summit even though it will require him to volunteer four days of his time this summer.

"I hope that I can contribute with my experiences," Alfredsson said Monday on a conference call. "It would be fun to golf in August but I'm sure I'll have enough time to get some games in before. I'm really looking forward to this.

"It's a lot of people with a lot of experience so I'm sure I can contribute a little bit. But I'm going to learn a lot as well."

Alfredsson will form the summit's leadership team with Steve Yzerman, Brian Burke and Hayley Wickenheiser — four big names in the sport that come from a variety of backgrounds.

Together, they encapsulate the spirit of the event. The Aug. 23-26 summit in Toronto will bring together key individuals from all levels of the game to discuss a myriad of issues that affect it.

Yzerman, the new general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, received a personal invite from Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson. He felt he owed that organization for exposing him to a number of different experiences over the years.

"It was an opportunity for me to repay them," said Yzerman. "Also, I feel that it's a great education for me to be involved in this type of concept. You learn a lot just by being there and you meet a lot of people (and) you come up with a lot of great ideas."

The summit's agenda includes issues such as women's hockey in the Olympics, player safety, skill development and potential harmonization of major international events such as the Olympics, world championship and the World Cup.

Expansion to Europe?

Judging by Monday's conference call with the leadership team, almost no aspect of the sport is likely to go untouched. The cost of getting children involved in the sport, the amount of practice time they should receive and the NHL's potential expansion to Europe were among the issues discussed during a session with reporters.

For Burke, the summit comes down to one overriding issue.

"The challenges that I think we have in our game — forget where it's played — are to keep the game available, affordable and to make sure we're always looking at alternatives," said Burke. "My primary goal going in is to see how we're going to continue to grow this game."

It's an issue that is close to Wickenheiser's heart as well.

The three-time Olympic gold medallist has seen the women's game come under fire because Canada and the U.S. are playing at a level so far beyond their competition. She'll be a key part of the discussion on that topic.

"My interest lies in the development of the female game -- not only here in Canada and North America but around the world," said Wickenheiser. "[There are] pressing questions about how we can continue to take the game to the next level and develop the game worldwide.

"I'm looking forward to being a part of it, offering what I can and making some steps forward out of this summit that can really help the women's game."

The International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL, Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and the Canadian Hockey League have all been listed as partners in the summit, with Molson as title sponsor.

Alfredsson will be one of the people who brings a European perspective to the discussion. He was raised in the Swedish town of Gothenburg and drafted by the Senators in 1994.

"[When] I moved to Ottawa it was a huge change," said Alfredsson. "Once you're in the locker room, it doesn't matter where you are. The atmosphere [and] the language might change, but everything from how you're treated in the locker room to the language that goes on is the same all over the world."