MONTREAL – Team Canada’s old guard will be looking to the young blood in the locker-room to help the country recapture Olympic glory in Vancouver, veteran goalie Martin Brodeur said Wednesday.
The 37-year-old New Jersey Devils netminder doesn’t know many of the baby-faced players expected to make the squad for the 2010 Winter Games.
But he does know that a guy named Sidney Crosby will be the cornerstone of what he predicts will be a talented team.
Brodeur, who backstopped Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002, is excited by the chance to play with the 21-year-old star, who recently led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup.
“I’m sure he wants to capture this gold medal and I think this is the type of player that we’re looking to to bring us to the next level,” the three-time Olympian said.
“You make your career by winning a gold medal. It’s something that’s going to stay with you all your life.”
He also expects the Pens captain to be hungrier than ever, especially after he was left off Canada’s 2006 Olympic team, which finished a disappointing seventh in Turin, Italy.
Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in wins, and Crosby are among 46 players invited to Team Canada’s summer orientation camp next month in Calgary.
Nineteen of the invitees will be 25 or under when camp begins Aug. 24.
While Brodeur predicts stiff opposition from other youthful teams, like Russia and the United States, he believes Canada’s young guns will be ready to step up on home ice.
“The talent is there,” he said in Montreal, where he announced a new endorsement deal with Sher-Wood Hockey Inc.
“It’s going to be interesting.”
Brodeur also spoke about a blast from the past in New Jersey – the Devils’ new head coach Jacques Lemaire.
Lemaire’s recent hiring kicked off his second stint in New Jersey, where he coached for five seasons in the mid 1990s and led the Devils to the Cup in 1995 – the first championship for the club and Brodeur.
He left New Jersey after the 1997-98 campaign and coached the Minnesota Wild for the past eight seasons.
Brodeur said he’s happy the defensive guru, who’s also a Team Canada coach, will be back behind New Jersey’s bench.
“I have a big smile because we had a lot of success with Jacques,” he said.
“Offensively, I think nothing’s going to change for us. We created a great way of playing hockey with (former head coach) Brent Sutter and I think he’s going to able to polish that off and put his tag on our team.”
Brodeur highlighted Lemaire’s knack for teaching young forwards how to play responsibly in their own end.
“I’m curious to see what kind of work he can do with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac … who are young superstars,” he said.
Asked about two of his former teammates – forwards Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta – who recently joined the Montreal Canadiens, Brodeur predicted them to shine in his hometown.
He expects Gionta to become a favourite of Montreal’s fickle fans.
“He’s an exciting player – he’s a small guy but plays big,” Brodeur said.
“He’ll challenge guys like (Zdeno) Chara – and it’s kind of funny a little bit because he’s so small – but he gets it done and he’s got the flair of scoring goals.”