Saturday, June 26, 2004
Updated: August 18, 4:09 PM ET
Blueliner, center still aching from playoffs
ESPN.com news services
With less than two months to go before World Cup of Hockey training camp starts, Canada is facing some pretty big question marks.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake might miss the event with a shoulder injury, Team Canada boss Wayne Gretzky told The Canadian Press on Saturday.
Also doubtful is Detroit Red Wings center Steve Yzerman, who seriously injured his eye in the playoffs.
"Because of these injuries, there may be additions to the team," Gretzky told CP at the NHL entry draft in Raleigh, N.C.
Training camp opens Aug. 20 in Ottawa for the event, which will be Aug. 30-Sept. 14.
Gretzky, who is the team's executive director, said that Blake is still bothered by an arm injury, which he suffered in the Western Conference semifinals. Blake was hip-checked by Jonathan Cheechoo in Game 3 vs. the San Jose Sharks and appeared to jam his arm, according to a report by The Sports Network of Canada.
The Avs called it an "upper-body injury," and Blake tried to return in Game 5. However, he played just one shift.
"That [not having Blake] would be a huge loss, he's been a key figure for Canada for a number of these series over the years," Canadian coach Pat Quinn told CP.
In the other West semifinals series, Yzerman suffered a broken bone below his left eye and a scratched cornea vs. the Calgary Flames. However, the 39-year-old Detroit captain said he wants to keep playing, not retire.
According to CP, sources indicate that Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Keith Primeau of the Philadelphia Flyers are the top two candidates to replace Yzerman at forward, while Scott Hannan of the Sharks, Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers and Bryan McCabe of the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the shortlist to replace Blake if needed.
CP considers Yzerman a long shot for the World Cup at this point. "I think he'll battle his way through it until the end before he decides," Gretzky said. "But he's a pretty classy guy. If he can't go, he'll tell us."
Gretzky did have some good news. He told CP that winger Shane Doan (knee) and defenseman Robyn Regehr (ankle) were not a concern and that he expects superstar center Mario Lemieux to be ready to go. Lemieux had season-ending hip surgery in January.
"I really believe Mario is going to play," Gretzky told the wire service. "I don't think he's going to be an issue. I talked to him a couple of weeks ago; he wants to be a major part of the World Cup. I think he's going to have a great tournament."
Team Canada won't consider suspended Vancouver Canucks player Todd Bertuzzi unless NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reinstates him for active duty after a hearing, according to CP. No date for that hearing has been announced.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.