There will be no Jason Spezza or John Tavares to boost Canada’s lineup at this year’s Spengler Cup.
A 24-man roster released Sunday has Canada back to using permanent European league players, plus two American Hockey League additions, for the Dec. 26-Jan. 1 tournament in Davos, Switzerand.
Canada sent a stacked team to last year’s event thanks to the NHL lockout. They pounded host HC Davos 7-2 in the final to win the world’s oldest international pro hockey tournament for a 12th time.
Spezza, Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Duchene, Sam Gagner, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Smyth, Devan Dubnyk and Jonathan Bernier are all back in the NHL this time.
But they will still have seven players back from 2012, including defencemen Geoff Kinrade, Micki DuPont, Maxim Noreau, Derrick Walser and Travis Roche, plus forwards Brett McLean and Byron Ritchie.
“We think we’ll be a good skating team with a lot of offensive prowess,” said Hockey Canada vice-president of hockey operations Brad Pascall. “Last year, we had a good team overall, but we lost the first game against a German club team.
“It wasn’t a cakewalk. But as it went on, we dominated because Canadians want to win every tournament they’re in and because we had players from the lockout.”
Canada is in a three-team group with HC Davos and the Vitkovice Steel of the Czech league and will play its first game Dec. 26 against the Steel.
The other group has Swiss club Servette Geneva, which is boosted by goalie Robert Mayer from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, as well as CSKA Moscow and the Rochester Americans of the AHL. The Americans were invited to the event for a second time after finishing third in 1996.
Former NHL player Doug Shedden, who coaches EV Zug of the Swiss league, is back as Canada’s head coach for a second year.
He helped select the team along with Pascall and two NHL assistant general managers — Craig Heisinger of the Winnipeg Jets and Brad Treliving of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Canada will have a national team in the tournament for a 30th straight year.
For fans watching on TV at home, it is a chance to see mostly European club teams in gaudy gear plastered with advertising battle on the international ice surface at the Vaillant Arena in scenic Davos in the Swiss Alps.
It’s also a chance to catch up with several former NHL players now skating in Europe.
Among them are goalie Chris Mason, defencemen Walser, Jim Vandermeer and Joel Kwiatkowski and forwards Ritchie, Anthony Stewart and Glen Metropolit.
“It’s special for the players who are there with their families,” said Pascall. “They’re away in a different country and this is a chance to spend a week with other Canadians and celebrate Canada.”
Also on the squad are former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Allen York, who has been bouncing around the AHL and ECHL this season, and forward Alexandre Bolduc of the AHL Chicago Wolves.
Others on the team include rearguards Travis Ehrhardt and Brendan Bell and forwards Colby Genoway, Alexandre Giroux, Brett McLean, Ahren Spylo, Jason Williams, Ryan MacMurchy, Darren Haydar, Jacob Mikflikier and Eric Beaudoin.
Mason plays in Italy, Ehrhardt in Norway and Haydar in Germany, but all the other Europrean-based players are from the Swiss league.
Canada won the first time it entered the Spengler Cup in 1984 and had a stretch of four wins in a row from 1995 to 1998. The win last year ended a four-year drought, although they have been in the final in 10 of the last 12 years.
The first Spengler Cup was played in 1923 and HC Davos, whose lineup includes Swiss national team veterans Andres Ambuhl and Reto Von Arx, has won 15 times.