CALGARY, AB - Defenceman Bryan McCabe has joined Canadas National Men’s Hockey Team for its nine- game tour of Finland, Norway and England, Mike Johnston, Team Canada’s general manager and head coach announced Thursday.
McCabe, 23, who played last season for the NHLs New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks, is an unsigned Group 2 free agent who has been practicing with the National Team for the past six weeks.
"Having Bryan McCabe in our lineup is obviously going to help our team in our first international tour this season," said Johnston. "It will also help Bryan and his NHL team because, he'll not only be in practice shape, he’ll be in game shape."
McCabe is a two-time member of Canadas World Championship Team, including the gold medal-winning club in 1997. Hes a two-time gold medalist for Canadas National Junior Team, having helped Canada win the World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic in 1994 and in Red Deer, AB in 1995.
Team Canada, which was to leave Calgary on Thursday, opens the tour with back-to-back games against Oulo of the Finnish Elite League on Sunday, Nov. 1 and Monday, Nov. 2.
"Oulo is one of the top teams in the Finnish Elite League and the games are significant because we want to play a full slate of games against the teams in that league during the 1999-2000 season," said Johnston. "We travel to Europe four times each season, so the idea would be to play three games against Finnish Elite League teams on each tour."
From Nov. 6-8, Team Canada will compete in the VAR Cup in Oslo, Norway against Slovakia, Switzerland and the host Norwegians.
"That tournament is important because were in the same pool at the 1999 World Hockey Championships as the teams well be competing against," said Johnston. "For 16 of our 20 players, that will be their first taste of international competition.
"This tour will also be a new experience for most of our players in that, under International Ice Hockey Federation rules, there is no centre red line. So that will be an adjustment, as well."
Team Canada concludes the nine-game, 18-day tour in Great Britain, where they play the Peterborough Pirates in Peterborough on Nov. 11, the Cardiff Devils in Cardiff, Wales on Nov. 12 and the Sheffield Steelers on Nov. 13. Sheldon Kennedy, who practiced with Team Canada this week, is not a member of the team and will not be travelling to Europe with them.