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Canada selects Lindros

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

TORONTO (AP) -- Eric Lindros, who has successfully returned to the NHL after more than a year away from hockey, was one of 15 players added to the Canada's Olympic team Saturday.

Lindros, the Canadian captain in the 1998 Nagano Olympics, was sidelined by repeated concussions and a rift with Philadelphia GM Bob Clarke that led to his trade to the New York Rangers.

Lindros, second in the NHL in scoring, missed the Rangers' game Saturday night against Buffalo because of a sprained knee and is expected to be out about a week.

''It should be hockey at its best,'' Lindros said. ''Everybody is in great shape and at the top of their game at that time of year.''

The roster was announced by Wayne Gretzky, Lindros' teammate on the 1998 team and now executive director of the country's Olympic hockey program.

''We truly believe that every player who is on this team deserves to be here and will contribute to hopefully us winning the gold medal,'' Gretzky said.

Joining Lindros were Rangers linemate Theo Fleury, Jarome Iginla of Calgary, Mike Peca of the New York Islanders, Simon Gagne of Philadelphia, Brendan Shanahan of Detroit, Ryan Smyth of Edmonton, Joe Nieuwendyk of Dallas, Adam Foote of Colorado, Eric Brewer of Edmonton, Ed Jovanovski of Vancouver and Al MacInnis of St. Louis.

Fleury missed the end of last season when he voluntarily entered an inpatient substance-abuse program. He entered play Saturday with an NHL-high 23 assists.

''Theo is one of the great stories in sport,'' Gretzky said. ''Nobody in life is perfect. I hated playing against him. He's one of the best pressure players in the game.''

The goalies are Martin Brodeur of New Jersey, Ed Belfour of Dallas and Curtis Joseph of Toronto. Patrick Roy of Colorado, who backstopped the 1998 team, asked not to be considered, preferring to concentrate on his NHL team.

Gretzky, a managing partner in Phoenix, said the toughest decision was leaving Coyotes goalie Sean Burke off the team.

''Sean deserves to be there based on his loyalty to Canada and all the international games he's played,'' Gretzky said. ''If you could make a goalie captain he'd be one of those guys. So it was a hard thing, but I can honestly say he's the one guy that will get the phone call if somebody gets hurt.''

Burke told KDUS-AM in Phoenix he was ''disappointed.''

''It would have been a great honor for me and something I think I would have earned,'' he said. ''I thought I should be considered, and I was, but they have to put together what works best for the team and make some tough decisions. It happens. I got to accept it.''

The squad, to be coached by Pat Quinn of Toronto, has three goalies, seven defenseman and 13 forwards. Colorado placed three players on the team, with two each from Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, New Jersey, the New York Rangers and St. Louis.

The team was introduced at the Hockey Hall of Fame, with youngsters wearing the stars' jerseys coming on stage, starting with the eight players already named to the roster: Rob Blake of Colorado, Chris Pronger of St. Louis, Scott Niedermayer of New Jersey, Mario Lemieux of Pittsburgh, Joe Sakic of Colorado, Paul Kariya of Anaheim, Owen Nolan of San Jose and Steve Yzerman of Detroit.

The team was selected Friday night. Gretzky spoke to 14 of the 15 players but failed to reach MacInnis, who was coaching his son's hockey team.

Some of the others missing the cut were Wade Redden of Ottawa, Derek Morris of Calgary, Scott Stevens of New Jersey, Alex Tanguay of Colorado, Anson Carter of Edmonton and Mark Recchi of Philadelphia.

Gretzky could still select them as alternates.

Stevens, 37, was likely a victim of age.

''I had a great experience the last time,'' he said. ''I'm just going to take the break and spend time with my family and get ready for the stretch drive. I'll be cheering for them.''

Canada lost the 1998 semifinal game to the eventual champion Czech Republic before losing to Finland for the bronze.

Dominik Hasek, the Czech goalie, stopped all five Canadian shooters -- including Nieuwendyk, Fleury, Lindros and Shanahan -- in a shootout.

''Wayne Gretzky knows what he's doing,'' Hasek said. ''We'll be ready also. I know the Canadians are maybe the favorite team for the Olympics, but we'll try to beat them if we get the chance.''



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