On Tuesday night, somewhere in Edmonton, Team Canada will be getting support for several NJT alumnus, notably Canada’s captain from 2004, Daniel Paillé.
Paillé, captain of Canada’s silver medal winning team at the 2004 World Junior Championship, is a member of the AHL’s Rochester Americans this season. The native of Welland, ON counts himself lucky that he’s on an AHL road trip that has him north of the border, in Edmonton, where he’ll be able to follow 12 of his former National Junior Team comrades and their new teammates go for gold against Russia in Grand Forks, ND on Tuesday night.
“The first game (of the 2004 WJHC) was really weird for me. I was home for a few days for Christmas, and I got to watch on TV. I felt like I should be there playing. You sort of feel like you’re there because there are so many guys that I know from last year.”
“We don’t get much coverage in Rochester but I’m always checking on the internet and I’ve been able to watch a couple games. It’s good that we’re in Edmonton. We’ll definitely be watching tonight.”
Paillé won’t be the only Team Canada alumnus watching in Edmonton. Paillé’s Rochester teammates Derek Roy and Nathan Paetsch were also his teammates in Halifax at the 2004 World Juniors. And their teammate, Jason Botterill, a three-time gold medal winner, will no doubt also be an interested party to tonight’s game.
And their upcoming AHL opponents, the Edmonton Road Runners, include four more National Junior Team alumnus, in Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Jeff Woywitka and Jamie Wright.
After losing their second straight gold medal final in 2004, Paillé and teammate Marc-André Fleury made sure to leave a positive message with those members of the team that would get another opportunity. (Note – Paillé and Fleury were the only returning members of the team which won silver in 2003 in Halifax) The two stood up in their dressing room in Helsinki and gave what amounted to a motivational message for twelve months down the road. And twelve months later, Paillé will be watching every single second of tonight’s final.
“For me it was like starting a build-up for next year. I knew that a lot of guys were going to get another chance, so for Marc-André and me, it was just a chance to get things started.”
“There’s nothing that we could get done at that moment. I mean, it was too late for that gold medal. So we figured it was time to get started on the future.”
Some players have made mention of their former teammates’ words over the course of the past week in interviews. Paillé, a 21 year old forward in his rookie AHL season, is proud that their words may have had even a small part in Canada doing so well at the 2005 World Juniors.
“I’m glad that they remember, and even if plays a little part of helping them achieve the gold medal, I’ll be very happy.”
But be certain that Paillé won’t be a mere spectator tonight. He, along with National Junior Team alumnus across North America, will be more like an inactive teammate, as he will always feel like part of Canada’s National Junior Program.