WINNIPEG, MB -- The selection camp roster of players who will vie for 22 spots on Canada's National Junior Team at the 1999 World Junior Hockey Championship was announced Wednesday by the Canadian Hockey Association and the Canadian Hockey League.
Tom Renney, the Canadian Hockey Association's vice-president, hockey, and the head coach of Canada's National Junior Team, along with Barry Trapp, director of scouting for the team, made the announcement at a news conference in Winnipeg, MB, where the 10-team World Junior Hockey Championship will be centred from Dec. 26-Jan. 5. Five other Manitoba cities also will play host to tournament games.
Canada's National Junior Team is assembled each year by the Canadian Hockey Association in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League, the body which governs Canada's three major junior hockey leagues -- the Western Hockey League; the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Reflecting that successful partnership, simultaneous news conferences were held in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary, hosted by representatives from the QMJHL, OHL and WHL, respectively.
The selection camp will be held at the Max Bell Arena in Winnipeg from Dec. 13-18. At that camp, the roster will be trimmed to 22 players for the World Junior Hockey Championship. The final roster will be announced in Winnipeg on Dec. 18.
"The selection process is crucial to our building the best team possible and credit for that goes largely to Barry Trapp, our Director of Scouting," said Renney. "Barry works extremely hard, in cooperation with our coaching staff, to ensure that we select not only outstanding players, but players with the best chance to meld together into a 22-man team.
"This year the process was made even more difficult than it always is because of a number of injuries to prospective candidates for our National Junior Team."
Renney noted that the recruitment process for the 1999 National Junior Team is not entirely complete yet.
"We have only named 29 players at this time, but over the next two weeks we are hoping to be able to add two or three more from among CHL players who are currently injured and, possibly, from the NHL."
The 29 invitees include five returning players from the 1998 National Junior Team -- defencemen Brad Ference of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, and Mike Van Ryn of the University of Michigan, forwards Daniel Tkaczuk of the OHL's Barrie Colts and Alex Tanguay of the Halifax Mooseheads, and goaltender Roberto Luongo of the Val D'Or Foreurs, also of the QMJHL.
The list includes 14 players from the WHL, nine from the OHL, four from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and two from U.S. university teams.
Renney will work with assistants Claude Julien, head coach of the Hull Olympiques of the QMJHL, as well as Stan Butler, head coach of the expansion Brampton Battalion of the OHL. The coaches, working with Trapp, will evaluate the 32 invitees during the six-day selection camp, to be held at the Max Bell Arena in Winnipeg from Dec. 13-18. From that group of players, 22 will be chosen by Dec. 18 to represent Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
"Selecting the best 22-player team for the World Junior Championship is always a challenge because our talent pool in Canada is so deep and because our performance in international competition is so important in our country," said Bob Nicholson, the CHA's president. "Our performance record in the 1990s -- during which we have won seven of nine gold medals -- indicates that our scouting system is sound.
"Our focus is not just on raw talent, but on other qualities players bring, such as leadership and the ability to work well in a true ‘team environment."
For Dave Branch, president of the CHL as well as commissioner of the OHL, the opportunity to compete for the World Junior Hockey Championship in your home country is a special treat, and a special challenge.
"The CHL is very proud of its involvement with the National Junior Team over the years," said Branch. "We take particular pride in welcoming the best junior hockey talent from around the world to compete against us in our own country.
"Again this year, we are confident that the team Tom Renney and his staff will put forward will do their very best for their country and conduct themselves -- both on and off the ice -- in a manner that all Canadians will be proud of."
On Dec. 18, the 22-player roster will move to Kenora, ON, for a pre-competition camp from Dec. 19-24 that will feature pre-tournament games against Finland, Russia and Switzerland, the gold-, silver- and bronze-medalists from the 1998 World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.
Canada has won the tournament a record 10 times, including seven of the last nine and five in a row between 1993-97. That stretch included a victory in the Championship in Red Deer, AB, in 1995, the last time the World Junior Hockey Championship was held in this country.
During the camp, Team Canada will stay at Kenora's Best Western Lakeside Inn, the official pre-competition camp host. Kenora's Michael Smith Fitness Centre will be the site of four games during the pre-competition camp, including all three games involving Team Canada. Team Canada will play Switzerland on Sunday, Dec. 20, Russia on Tuesday, December 22 and Finland on Wednesday, Dec. 23. All games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
"Both Kenora and Dryden have been strong supporters of the Canadian Hockey Association's programs, particularly the Men's National Team and we expect that the tradition of support the two communities have demonstrated will help make this pre-competition camp a success for all teams involved, as well as enjoyable for the hockey fans in that area," said Denis Hainault, the CHA's Director, High Performance.