Hockey Canada

Ellis, Schenn among returnees helping along Canada hopefuls

Jamie Bell,
12/13/2010 4:53:25 PM
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In an abbreviated competition like the IIHF World Junior Hockey championship, it is necessary for a team to come together very quickly in order to achieve its goal.

In Team Canada's case that would be bouncing back from a devastating overtime loss to their American rivals in the final and bringing gold back to Canada.

Fortunately for head coach Dave Cameron and his staff, the group of 40 hopefuls that are attending selection camp just outside of Toronto are filled with players that assume the leadership role on their respective junior or college teams and can impart some of that experience on some of the younger players.

Over the past two days at the Mastercard Centre, the group of four returning players, Ryan Ellis, Brayden Schenn, Jared Cowen and Calvin De Haan, have taken over that leadership role and are helping impart that experience on some of the younger players.

"They've been really helpful," said Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray. 

At just 17-years-old and not eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2012, Murray is the youngest player in camp. He is very thankful for all the tips that his veteran teammates have given him.

"A lot of the older guys have been helping me out, talking to me a lot in the room and making me feel comfortable."    

That responsibility is something that Ellis takes very seriously as he attempts to make the team for the third straight year.

"The first-year guys here, you have to show them what it's all about," said Ellis.  "Every Canadian player dreams of days like this so it's not hard to get up for games, but to be your best in those games you've really got to push yourself."

With a World Junior gold and silver medal already under his belt, Ellis is almost discussed in reverent tones by both the players and the coaching staff.

"He's one of the dominant players," said head coach Dave Cameron.  "He's a guy that sets the tone in regards to how the team is playing."

That tone is something that Ellis' teammates pick up on.

"He's one of the smartest players that I've ever played with on the ice and his puck skills are unbelievable too," said De Haan.

While Ellis said that he did not want to think too far ahead, he admitted that being a captain or an assistant would be something he would take very seriously.

"It would be huge," said Ellis. "It's an honour to wear the Canadian jersey, but any time there's a letter on that it's even more important."

While Ellis appears to have the credentials to be captain material, he is not alone.  To a man, all four returning players discussed the importance that the role of leadership will play in the tournament.
"I wear the 'C' in Spokane and I've learned quite a lot about leadership there since I've been doing that," said Cowen.  "I think to come here it wouldn't be too different.  It would be a little more responsibility but I think that pretty much everyone here on the team is a leader so it's kind of a small part that (we all) have to play."

While none of the returnees want to linger too long on last year's disappointment in Saskatoon, all feel that it played a significant role in their personal development, and that it could help them.

"Last year winning silver, it was tough to take," said Brayden Schenn who only recently returned to his junior club, the Brandon Wheat Kings after an eight-game stint with the Los Angeles Kings.  "You gain experience as the years go on.  I've gained experience just being up this year with the Kings as well as last year learning from the returning players.  You take that experience and you try to give it to the other guys."

While the returnees will be asked to fill the position of leaders, there are plenty of first-time hopefuls that would assume the role if need be.

"To wear an 'A' would be great," said Florida Panthers draft pick and Kingston Frontenacs' blueliner Erik Gudbranson. "I'm not here for a personal achievement like that, I'm here to be a leader on this team hopefully and contribute in any way possible.  If necessary then absolutely I would put an 'A' on and it would be a true honour."   

At the moment Cameron is more concerned with determining who will make the team rather than who will sport the 'C' as cuts are expected to come over the next two days.

He did outline what he was looking for from his leaders.

"Guys that set the example," Cameron stated plainly.

Luckily for him there are no shortage of candidates willing to do just that.

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