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Team Canada tours Red Square, takes in sights at IIHF world championship

The big defenceman had a couple of his Canadian teammates howling with laughter on Sunday when he purchased a traditional Russian hat near the entrance to Red Square and pulled it tightly over his curly mop of ginger hair.

The black fur cap was complete with a small hammer and sickle pin and Commodore posed proudly as complete strangers took pictures of him wearing it.

It was a light moment on a cold, grey afternoon as Team Canada took some time to tour the Russian capital.

"It's nice to get out and get around," said Commodore, who won the Stanley Cup with Carolina last June. "It gets tiring just sitting in the hotel all day. Guys want to get out and see things - you never know if you'll get back here.

"It's nice to walk around and experience things as a team."

Commodore is in Europe for the very first time and has been shocked by the size of sprawling Moscow, which has a population of roughly 11 million.

The chance to spend time in a foreign place is one of the benefits for those who join Canada at the IIHF world championship. The tournament lasts almost three weeks and the early games are often against weaker nations.

Canada plays Norway on Monday.

A slow start to the event gives players the chance to ease in and have a little fun, something Commodore's teammates were clearly doing while he hammed it up.

"I know his style," said fellow Hurricanes player Justin Williams. "He's looking for a laugh all the time.

"He's probably a favourite in every dressing room he's ever played in."

The Canadians had a late morning practice at suburban Mytischi Arena before grabbing lunch downtown and visiting Red Square, where they walked past such landmarks as the Kremlin, Lenin's tomb and St. Basil's Cathedral.

The morning hadn't gone exactly as planned. Canadian defenceman Shea Weber was suspended three games by the IIHF after hitting Yannic Seidenberg with a hard inadvertent elbow in Canada's opening 3-2 win over German on Saturday.

Weber was understandably disappointed with the ruling.

"He came a long way to play for Canada and wants to be in the lineup," said coach Andy Murray.

However, even Weber looked to be enjoying himself later in the day while walking through the heart of Moscow with his teammates.

Another happy player was goalie Cam Ward, who like Commodore is visiting Europe for the first time. Last year's Conn Smythe winner was a notable late cut at two world junior training camps and will get his first start for Canada on Monday against the Norwegians.

"I'm ready to go," Ward said. "I've been waiting for this chance and looking forward to it."

He'll go home with at least one souvenir as Team Canada gathered for a group photo in front of the famous multi-coloured spires of St. Basil's.

Mike Cammalleri, Dan Hamhuis, Nick Schultz and Barret Jackman have already been part of a similar shot. They were members of the Canadian world junior team in 2001 and did some sightseeing during that tournament in Moscow.

"This is the first time Russia has felt familiar again," said Cammalleri, pointing in the direction of the hotel where the junior team had stayed. "I remember all of this area as clearly as if I was here recently.

"It's been six years but it's still fresh in my mind."

Teenager Jordan Staal carried a camera and took some pictures on Sunday afternoon just in case his memory isn't as good. The 18-year-old had earlier skated in the same colour practice jersey as Shane Doan and Rick Nash - an indication he'll see more ice time against Norway.

It should be no surprise. He's consistently shown poise beyond his years.

Staal is joined on the team by his older brother Eric, but says the family connection didn't influence his decision to come over.

"There's no question about it, if he was here or not, I was going to be a part of this team," said Jordan. "It's just a bonus that he's here."

There are plenty of little bonuses to be found for those at the world championship, even before the truly meaningful games get started.

One lucky kid also got one when Commodore gave him the hat he had just bought off a street vendor for 500 rubles (C$22).

"A big part of being here is seeing how other people live their lives and run their cities," said Commodore. "It's really been an eye-opener. I'm enjoying it."


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