CALGARY, ALBERTA – Hockey Canada announced on Wednesday its plans, timelines and options for Canada's three national teams that are preparing for and will be participating at the 2006 Winter Olympic and 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin, Italy, February 10-26, 2006, in women's hockey, sledge hockey and men's hockey.
"With just 471 days until the 2006 Winter Games begin in Torino, the preparation of Canada's three hockey teams (women's, sledge and men's) continues to be a primary focus, " said Bob Nicholson, President, Hockey Canada. "While Hockey Canada is hopeful that NHL players will participate in the 2006 Olympics in Torino we are exploring secondary plans and reviewing various options should this not become a reality.”
Canada's National Women's Hockey Team
Canada is the defending Olympic champions in women's hockey, winning Olympic gold in Salt Lake City in 2002. Canada has also won all 8 World Women's Hockey Championships ever held, including the 2004 Worlds in Halifax.
Canada's National Sledge Hockey Team
Sledge Hockey, which has been an associate member of Hockey Canada since 1993, was approved by Hockey Canada's Board of Directors as a full member of Hockey Canada at its Annual General Meeting in May, 2004. With that decision, Canada's National Sledge Hockey Team that will participate at the 2006 Paralympic Games in Italy falls under the supervision and direction of Hockey Canada. Canada's National Sledge Hockey Team won the 2000 World Championship, and finished fourth at the 2004 World Championship in Sweden. The National Sledge Hockey Team has also established themselves internationally as the silver medal winners at the 1998 Nagano Paralympic Games and finished 4th at the 2002 Salt Lake City Paralympic Games.
Canada's National Men's Hockey Team
Canada's National Men's Hockey Team, which was run as a ‘full-time' team from 1963-68 and 1983-2000, gave Canada a presence at major international events, was a development program for players moving on to sign NHL, minor league and international contracts, and give players the opportunity to travel the world and represent their country. Canada's ‘full-time' National Team participated in the Winter Olympic Games in 1980 through 1994, winning silver medals in 1992 and 1994.
National Hockey League players represented Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan (4th place) and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (gold medal).
Hockey Canada made the decision after the 1999-2000 season to switch from a ‘full-time' National Men's team, the only one of its kind in the world at that point in time, to a ‘part-time' team. Since the start of the 2000-2001 season, Hockey Canada has operated this ‘part-time' team effectively – utilizing Canadian players playing full-time with European club teams in Europe and minor pro players from North American leagues that are put together to represent Canada on the international stage at major European tournaments such as the Spengler Cup, Sweden Games, Deutschland Cup, Loto Cup and Swiss Cup. As a part-time team, Canada won the prestigious Spengler Cup in 2002 and 2003.
Hockey Canada has began its preparations for various scenarios for its men's hockey team program over the next 16 months:
Timeline: November 1, 2004 – January 15, 2005
The exception would be players that were NHL free-agents after the 2003-2004 season, and signed contracts to play in Europe for the entire 2004-2005 season, or players that were assigned to minor leagues by their NHL team for the 2004-2005 season.
This decision allows Habscheid to evaluate Canadian-born players playing in Europe as possible candidates for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, if there was to be no NHL participation.Timeline: January 16 - March 31, 2005
Timeline: April 1-July 1, 2005
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