Guy Boucher ready for the challenge of the Spengler Cup

Hockey Canada announced the roster for the Spengler Cup, and head coach Guy Boucher is ready to tackle the challenge of finding chemistry with a new team.

Canadian roster announced by Hockey Canada

Former Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher is ready for the challenge of getting team Canada ready for the Spengler Cup in a short period of time. (Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press)

Guy Boucher is anxious to face the chemistry-building challenge that is the Spengler Cup.

The former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach will be on Canada's bench Friday when it opens the annual Christmas event in Switzerland against host team HC Davos.

It begins an intense stretch for the Canadians and five other competing squads, as the tournament champion will be crowned Dec. 31.

Compounding the task for Boucher is having to build his team from scratch to compete against others that have been together this season. The Canadian squad will practise as a unit for the first time Thursday.

"Oh yes, it's a challenge but to be honest that's what I love about it," Boucher said with a chuckle via telephone from Switzerland. "It's one of those things where it's all thrown at you and you have to react to it and find solutions real fast.

"The quality of the teams in the tournament is really high and they've been together for months whereas Canada, in one day, has to come up with a roster and gameplan that's going to beat that. In that regard I think that's the toughest thing to do, getting the chemistry on and off the ice in that short amount of time . . . but my expectation is always to win at whatever I do."

It's a challenge Canada has often met, having appeared in 10 of the last 13 Spengler Cup finals and winning in '02, '03,'07 and '12. Overall, Canadian teams have captured this event 12 times since first taking part in 1984.

Boucher's roster, unveiled Tuesday by Hockey Canada, features eight returnees from last year's squad (defencemen Micki Dupont, Joel Kwiatkowski, Jim Vandermeer and Derrick Walser and forwards Colby Genoway, Alexandre Giroux, Brett McLean and Byron Ritchie) and five who represented Canada at the world junior hockey championship (forwards Chris DiDomenico, Curtis Hamilton and Jeff Tambellini and defencemen Steve McCarthy and Ryan Parent).

Canada's lineup features 14 Swiss League players, including four from Boucher's Bern squad (forwards Ritchie and Bud Holloway, defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani and goalie Nolan Schaefer). Veteran AHLer Drew McIntyre of the Charlotte Checkers is the other goaltender.

The combination of a condensed schedule and precious little practice time forces Boucher and his coaches to formulate a gameplan that's simple enough for the players to pick up on the fly but is still effective against more established opposition.

"A key is to try and put guys in roles right away because you don't have time to change roles four, five times in the tournament," Boucher said. "You really have to make sure the same guys are out there on the power play, the first PK (penalty kill), play against the first line and are double-shifted.

"I think that's the big thing we did, working on who'd play the power play and where, who had played together before so we can create chemistry right away and keep it very simple."