- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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The 18-year-old forward is eligible to play for Team Canada at the World Juniors Championships to be held Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Buffalo, N.Y., but he hasn’t been told by Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli whether he has permission to go.
ESPNBoston.com’s James Murphy first reported Tuesday that the Bruins are willing to let Seguin play in the WJC. Following the Bruins’ optional skate Wednesday morning at the Wells Fargo Center in preparation for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he did not want to comment on the matter.
“I haven’t even heard about that,” Julien said. “Honestly, I don’t want to comment on it because I heard it through the media as well. I haven’t heard it from the horse’s mouth, so it’s not worth commenting on, to be honest with you.”
When asked if he has spoken with Chiarelli about playing in the tournament, Seguin said: “I’m not sure.”
Seguin called it a complicated situation, and admitted he hasn’t thought about playing for Team Canada because he’s focused on his job with the Bruins. He actually made a joke, saying he hopes Chiarelli doesn’t ask for his feedback.
“If they ask me, I’d be like, ‘Don’t ask me. Just tell me,' ” he said.
No doubt Team Canada would love to have the No. 2 overall pick from the 2010 draft, and there's a part of Seguin that wants to play, too, he said. He was cut from last year’s team and Canada eventually lost in the Gold Medal round to the United States.
On the other hand, Seguin is playing for the Boston Bruins in the NHL.
“It’s hard because you grow up and your dream is to make the NHL and win a Stanley Cup,” he said. “It’s still my dream to win a Stanley Cup, and you do that by being up here.
“In the back of my mind, though, it’s always been a goal to represent my country at world juniors, or junior Olympics, whatever it may be, and winning a Gold Medal. It’s an opportunity at Christmas, but it’s going against my No.1 goal and dream.”
If the Bruins allow Seguin to join the WJC team, his salary would come off the books for those two weeks and not affect the cap. Either way, it’s a tough decision for both sides.
“If they told me to go back, I don’t know how I would feel,” admitted Seguin. “My goal in juniors was always to be in the NHL, and second to that was to represent your country, winning a Gold Medal. It’s been in my mind, but first I would want to stay in the NHL. I guess we’ll see what they say.”
He’s made it no secret that he was disappointed to be left off Team Canada’s roster last year.
“Last year when I didn’t make the team at Christmas, it was the most adversity I think I had ever faced in my hockey career, and I had to overcome it,” Seguin said. “I said if I ever got a second chance, and the opportunity, I would take advantage of it. But, I guess, I didn’t factor in being in the NHL too much, so I’ll take that over anything else.”
Across the visitor’s locker room at Wells Fargo Center stood Seguin’s teammate and fellow Canadian Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins’ assistant captain played in the WJC in 2005 and won a Gold Medal, while being named the tourney’s MVP. That season would have been his sophomore year in the NHL, but due to the lockout he played the entire season for Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In fact, Bergeron asked the organization if he could play for Team Canada because the Bruins did not want him to go a year earlier, during his rookie season.
“The Bruins kept me and didn’t let me go,” he said. “I wasn’t mad at all because I was happy here.”
Bergeron’s situation then is different from Seguin’s now because of the lockout. Still, Bergeron would recommend to any player to participate in the WJC if given the opportunity.
“Well, it’s an experience I’m happy I had a chance to go,” Bergeron said. “It’s an experience of a lifetime, and I wish it for everyone. At the same time, Siggy’s a great player and he’s playing well here.”
The year Bergeron helped Team Canada win the Gold Medal at the WJC the roster was loaded with talented players, including Sidney Crosby.
“It was unbelievable. It was a great experience,” Bergeron said. “It was probably one of the best of my career, to be honest. It was something I watched on TV my whole childhood, and having a chance to be there was something very special.”
Even though Bergeron already had one season of NHL experience, he admits that playing in the World Junior Championships helped his development as a player.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I learned a lot in that two-week span. I learned to rise up to the occasion in a tournament like that, and make sure you’re ready for every game. Every game is important and you’re dealing with pressure. I have some great memories.”
Whether or not Seguin will get that chance remains to be seen.