TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs have announced that Morgan Rielly will not be playing in the world junior championship for Canada.
It was considered unlikely that Rielly would be loaned to Canada for the tournament, which begins Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden, though a stretch of three straight games in the press box made it something of a debate.
The defenceman has appeared in five straight games since then, and Toronto ended the speculation by confirming the 19-year-old will be sticking around.
"[It's a] disappointment for sure," Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's senior director of hockey operations. "Yeah, it was a long-shot, but we were hopeful all along that we would get some help. I certainly respect their decision and now we're focussing on the guys, who are here and not the guys, who aren't here."
Rielly has a goal and nine assists in 27 games this season. He was the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft and made the team out of training camp.
Salmond was understanding of the tough spot the Leafs were placed into as a result of Rielly's eligibility.
"Dave Nonis has been great throughout the whole process," he said. "They need to make decisions based on what's best for their team and we appreciate the fact they waited as long as they did and did put the consideration in. At the end of the day they need to make the decision that's right for them."
Had he been loaned to Team Canada, Rielly was considered a candidate to be team captain.
- With files from TSN.ca