CALGARY, AB -- Former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Dominic Roussel of Hull, PQ, and veteran National Hockey League forward Pat Conacher of Calgary were among 39 players who reported to Canada's Men's National Team 1997-98 training camp at Father David Bauer Arena, head coach Andy Murray announced Monday.
Murray and Mike Johnston, Team Canada's general manager and associate coach, also invited two returning players from the 1996-97 National Team: forwards Brad Chartrand of Winnipeg and Sean Selmser, of Calgary.
Murray and Johnston will split the 39-player roster into Red and White teams this week, which will feature two practice sessions daily from Monday through Thursday, as well as four intra-squad games, which are open to the public free of charge. The team plays its first exhibition game at the Saddledome in Calgary on Saturday, Sept. 13.
'The focus of our program is to represent Canada at international tournaments such as the Deutschland Cup, Spengler Cup and Sweden Games, to bring high-calibre international hockey to small-town Canada and provide free agents or NHL-assigned players with a development opportunity," said Murray, who is entering his second season as head coach of the National Team. "We also provide inspiration to young players across Canada with our 'experience a dream' program and share our hockey expertise through our clinics and the guest-coach/guest trainer program."
In 1997-98, the National Team will play a 65-game schedule, including tours of England, Germany, where the National Team will compete in the Deutschland Cup from Nov. 7-9, France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Unlike past years, when Canada has assembled a team composed of Canadian pros playing in Europe, this year the National Team will compete in the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland from Dec. 26-31. Canada won that prestigious tournament last year, its sixth Spengler victory overall. Murray was a coach on five of those six championship teams.
National Team players usually range in age between 19-25, but the club tries to find room for one or two veterans, to provide leadership on and off the ice. Conacher, 38, is a 17-year pro whose NHL stops included the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders. He will be counted on to supply that leadership this season. In addition to supplying the club with the on-ice grit and determination that was his NHL calling card, Conacher will serve as a coaching intern this season.
"We are fortunate to have an experienced player like Pat Conacher on our team," said Johnston. "Last season Dean Evason played that role, and played it very well. This year, we're counting on Pat and we're confident he'll deliver."
Evason, Team Canada's leading scorer and captain in 1996-97, also helped Canada win a gold medal at the World Hockey Championship in Helsinki in May. His solid play helped earn him a contract with Landshut of the German Elite League for the 1997-98 season.
In all, at least 15 of members of the 1996-97 team signed professional contracts, including Brett Clark, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens organization, Kayle Short (Washington Capitals) and goaltender Jordan Willis (Dallas Stars) and Blair Allison. Six of the 15 signed with teams based in Europe, including Evason and Steve Junker with Landshut, George Zajankala, who signed with Cologne of the German Elite League and Jason Young, who is playing for Thurgau of the Swiss Elite League. Ryan Duthie and Reid Simonton both signed with teams in the Finnish Elite League.