There may be some familiar faces on the Team Canada bench next month at the IIHF world championship next month in Finland.
While DJ Smith was named an assistant on Claude Julien’s staff Monday, the Ottawa Senators’ head coach may be well represented. forwards Drake Batherson and Connor Brown are both expected to be invited along with alternate captain Thomas Chabot.
All three are expected to attend as long as they’re healthy.
Batherson told this newspaper last month he would go if invited, while Brown was one of Canada’s best players last spring when the country won a gold medal in the bubble in Riga, Latvia.
As for Chabot, he’s been out with a hand injury and there’s no guarantee he’ll suit up before the end of the season. He’d have to be 100 per cent healthy before he’d get the green light but there’s still a chance he may play next week.
Chabot missed his 17th straight game Tuesday night as the Senators faced the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
WAITING ON THE WORLD
There could be some action off the ice this week as the Senators wind down their season with only five games left on the schedule.
After facing the Vancouver Canucks, the Senators will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday on the road before closing out this week, Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at home.
While the Senators would like to close out the season strong, they’d get a big boost if a bid to host the 2023 IIHF world junior championship with their partners at the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is successful.
The belief is the people at Hockey Canada would like to make a decision by the end of this week on the host city. It was originally scheduled to be held in Russia but was pulled out because the countries unprovoked attacked on Ukraine.
The IIHF is expected to meet next Monday and Tuesday to rubber stamp the recommendation from Hockey Canada and then announce the host site. Those meetings will likely take place during the IIHF under-18 tourney in Germany.
Though there have been reports to varying degrees about which city is the favourite, there’s little question the bid by the Senators and the umbrella company that owns the Ottawa 67’s is getting serious consideration.
Not only did the bid have strong financial backing from the province of Ontario and the city of Ottawa, the evidence and success of the 2009 world junior championship here should be enough to put the bid over the top.
The 2009 tournament held at the Canadian Tire Center and TD Place Arena set an attendance record of 453,282 patrons. It wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that it would happen here again.
There were five bids for the world junior tournament, but Ottawa was the only one that would house the tournament in one city. The rest were joint bids with two homes and that’s why this city may be an attractive option.
Halifax and Moncton entered a bid along with London/Kitchener, Quebec-Trois Rivieres and Regina/Saskatoon. The belief is Hockey Canada doesn’t have much of an appetite to go to West again which means Saskatchewan may be out.
There was talk on the weekend that part of the IIHF’s motivation is making sure the arenas are packed for television. Let’s be completely honest here, the biggest motivation is the almighty dollar.
Like everybody else, the Senators president of business operations Anthony LeBlanc and OSEG president Mark Goudie had to make a financial guarantee to Hockey Canada. It would be no surprise if that figure was in the $6 million range.
But beyond that you need to be able to show that your market can support the tourney with ticket sales and that shouldn’t be an issue here.
Center Dylan Gambrell grew up only 40 minutes outside Seattle in Bonney Lake, WA. so this was a chance for him to play at home.
As a kid, the 25-year-old Gambrell, who went to college at the University of Denver, used to watch the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds before the rink was reconstructed to its current Climate Pledge structure.
It was expanded and rebuilt for the arrival of the Kraken this season. The club introduced Grammy winner Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) and former NFL running back marshawn lynch as part of the minority investor group before the game.
“It was really cool and I was super-grateful for the opportunity,” Gambrell said. “I grew up coming here to watch the Thunderbirds play so it was pretty cool to just be in the same building and to see Macklemore plus all that stuff.”
He had close to 25 family and friends on hand for the game.
THE LAST WORDS
Called up from Belleville with forward Colin White in COVID-19 protocol, winger Zach Senyshyn made his debut with his hometown team against Seattle. I have played 8:48 and had no shots on goal. He was used in a fourth-line role and the Senators spent much of the first 10 minutes of the game killing penalties so it was difficult to have any flow … Ottawa D Travis Hamonic, acquired at the deadline from the Canucks, faced his former team for the first time since being dealt to the Senators. Hamonic has averaged 19 minutes and five seconds per-night with Ottawa. He’s been a solid addition and makes the simple plays … With the exception of starting G Philip Gustavsson, Smith didn’t make any other changes against Vancouver.