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McKenzie: Connolly's been thrown challenge after challenge

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Bob McKenzie
12/28/2011 12:34:17 PM
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Brett Connolly is known as an offensive player, but this is a player that has been thrown challenges - one after another - during this year's Team Canada experience.

On Day One of selection camp, they didn't like his game or his body language and he got injured. 

On Day Two, they basically insisted that he play hurt because they wanted to see him in the second scrimmage, which isn't always the case for returning players from last year's team. 

On Day Three of selection camp, he was the only returning player that had to play against the university stars, almost as if to suggest his job was still on the line and he wasn't getting anything for free.
 
He finally got rewarded last week when they put an 'A' on his sweater - making him an alternate captain. 

I've really been impressed with his game, especially on opening day against the Finns. I thought he brought a real physical element to the game, but he also got a nice goal and he's chipping in offensively and defensively. 

Don Hay, when asked why they were putting him on that line, said it's because 'we want him to check' and it's another challenge being thrown out to Connolly. 

Keep in mind, this is a 19-year-old kid that is playing in the National Hockey League.  If you're going to play in the NHL at 19, it's not just because you're going to be an offensive player - you've got to have some defensive awareness and responsibility.  

He's done that for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada wants him to do that here.

Brett Connolly (Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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