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Sunday, August 15, 2004
Updated: August 18, 4:10 PM ET
Pronger pulls out with undisclosed injury

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues pulled out of the World Cup of Hockey on Sunday with an undisclosed injury, and was replaced on the Canadian team by Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers.

Pronger's decision comes less than a week before the Canadian team was to open training camp. The team is scheduled practice for the first time Friday in Ottawa.

"We are disappointed that Chris could not participate, but this gives a great opportunity to one of Canada's rising young stars," said Wayne Gretzky, the executive director of Canada's World Cup team. "When you can replace Chris with a player of Jay's caliber, it shows you how much depth we have in this country."

Pronger is the fourth high-profile Canadian team player, and second defenseman, to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. Last week, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour pulled out due to a back ailment, while Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake (shoulder) and Detroit Red Wings center Steve Yzerman (eye) also stepped down.

Belfour, Pronger, Yzerman and Blake all played for the Canadian team that won gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games two years ago, Canada's first Olympic victory in 50 years.

Canada will kick off its tournament Aug. 31 in Montreal against the defending World Cup champion United States.