Team Canada adds NHLers Hamhuis, Weber
Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber have something to look forward to following Nashville's first-round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Predators' defence pair accepted invitations Sunday to join Team Canada in Moscow for the upcoming world hockey championship in Russia.
Hamhuis and Weber saw their Stanley Cup hopes dashed in Friday's 3-2 loss to the visiting San Jose Sharks, who took the NHL Western Conference quarter-final series in five games.
In Russia, they will join a defence corps with plenty of experience on the international hockey scene.
Four of the five blue-liners have represented Canada in the past at the world junior tourney: Barret Jackman (2000, 2001), Eric Brewer (1998), Hamhuis (2001, 2002) and Weber (2005).
Brewer also won gold at the 2002 Olympics and 2003 and 2004 world championships.
Only Carolina Hurricanes rearguard Mike Commodore, 27, will be making his international debut. He won a Stanley Cup with Carolina last spring and got to Game 7 of the final while playing with Calgary in 2004.
Canada's general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Andy Murray have been keen observers during Round 1 of the NHL post-season. They, along with a staff of advisers, have identified players from every team to invite once they've been eliminated.
After the additions of Hamhuis and Weber, two vacant spots remain on the blue-line. A third goalie will also be added to join Cam Ward of the Hurricanes and Dwayne Roloson of the Edmonton Oilers.
Hamhuis, a 24-year-old from Smithers, B.C., also played for the Canadian team that finished fourth a year ago at the world championship in Latvia. He had six goals and 20 points in 81 games for Nashville this year.
Weber, 21, established himself as one of Nashville's best young players in his first full NHL season. The Sicamous, B.C., native scored 17 goals and had 40 points while playing in 79 games this year.
Canada currently has nine forwards, including Jordan Staal, 18, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who was added to the roster on Saturday.
The team will likely carry 13 players up front and is considering several options to fill out the remaining four spots.
The first group of Canadian players departed for Finland on Sunday and will participate in a training camp that includes junior player Jonathan Toews of Winnipeg and six European-based professionals.
Canada will play an exhibition game with the host Finns on Tuesday night in Tampere.
The team arrives in Moscow Thursday and will have two more days to prepare for its opening game against Germany on April 28. Canada will also play Norway and Slovakia in the first round.
This is an important event for Hockey Canada, which is already looking ahead to the Olympics in 2010.
Not only can it evaluate the performance of young players like Weber and first-time executives like Yzerman on the international stage, it can earn valuable world ranking points if the team has a good showing.
Canada has slipped to fourth in the rankings and faces tougher preliminary round competition at these tournaments as a result. It was rated No. 1 in the world heading into last year's Turin Olympics before finishing a disappointing seventh.
With files from the Canadian Press