Canada Downs USA in North American World Cup Opener

Team USA came out flat in the first period of the first North American matchup in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and it cost them the game, as two power-play goals carried Team Canada to a 2-1 win Tuesday night.

The Americans managed only six shots in the first twenty minutes of play as the Canadians controlled the game. Canada got the game’s first goal with 3:59 remaining in the first period when Martin St. Louis scored on the power play.

Joe Sakic added another goal with the man-advantage just 3:05 into the second period, giving Team Canada a 2-0 lead.

The US pulled within one when Bill Guerin put a shot over the shoulder of Canadian goaltender Martin Brodeur but that wouldn’t be enough. The remainder of the game would be scoreless as Canada picked up the victory.

Canada will next be in action against Slovakia on Wednesday night in Montreal. The United States’ next game is Thursday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, when they host Russia.

In Tuesday’s European game, Sweden defeated Germany, 5-2. In the tournament opener on Monday, Finland surprised the Czech Republic with a 4-0 victory.

Team Canada Bounces Back, Defeats Team USA 3-1

After falling to the Americans, 3-1, on Monday night, Team Canada bounced back and turned the tables on Team USA, beating them by an identical score in an exhibition game in Ottawa on Wednesday. All of Canada’s goals came in the second period.

Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Sakic and Brad Richards each scored for the Canadians, who were unable to crack US goalie Robert Esche in the first period. Ty Conklin was in net for all of Canada’s goals.

Lecavalier opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 with Mario Lemeiux on the power play 5:25 into the game’s middle frame.

Just 2:20 later, Sakic scored on another 2-on-1.

“We just made some mistakes, turnovers, that you make in exhibition games,” said U.S. defenseman Brian Leetch. “Halfway through the game we’d allowed only 12 shots but half of them were 2-on-1s against our goaltender.”

Roberto Luongo, who allowed all three Team USA goals on Monday, didn’t allow a goal on Wednesday night. He was replaced by Jose Theodore midway through the second period. Theodore allowed the American’s lone goal of the night when Chris Drury scored 4:10 in to the third period.

U.S. Edges Canada in Exhibition

In a pre-World Cup exhibition matchup, the United States defeated Canada, 3-1, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Canadian team was without captain Mario Lemieux, who decided to sit out the game.

Canada opened the game’s scoring with a goal by Atlanta Thrashers’ forward Dany Heatley halway through the first period. They held the lead until the game’s midway point thanks to solid goaltending from Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

Florida Panther Roberto Luongo replaced Brodeur and the Dallas Stars’ Bill Guerin scored to even the game at 10:25 of the second. Brian Rolston of the Boston Bruins scored with 58 seconds left in the period to put the United States on top.

Calgary Flame Jordan Leopold added a third period goal – assisted by Detroit Red Wing Chris Chelios – for the Americans and Canada was unable to score against New York Islander Rick DiPietro, replaced Edmonton Oiler Ty Conklin in net at the start of the second period.

“It’s U.S.-Canada,” Guerin said. “They’re our biggest rivals. We’re theirs. This means a lot for both teams, whether it’s exhibition or not. You have to be ready.”

NHL Fans’ Association Makes Offer to NHL, NHLPA

The NHL Fans’ Association released a letter Monday morning detailing the NHLFA’s plan to avoid a lockout upon the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players. The letter was sent to National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Association executive director Bob Goodenow, as well as various media outlets.

The CBA expires on September 15, one day after the end of the World Cup of Hockey. Many experts are predicting a long lockout as the owners attempt to force the players to accept their offer. Even the most optimistic of those expecting a work stoppage don’t see the season beginning before January 2005.

The NHLFA plan is for the two sides – who have repeatedly stated that they will not give in to the other side’s demands – to begin a Mediation – Arbitration process to decide the next CBA. Their belief is that a third party mediator/arbitrator would create a CBA that is fair to both sides in a faster timeframe than the league and the players union would on their own.

If the mediation process did not result in an agreement, the mediator would become an arbitrator with the power to impose a new agreement before any of the season is lost. The NHLFA offered to select the mediator/arbitrator to ensure that both sides are treated fairly.

Neither the NHL nor the NHLPA have responded to the letter.

The NHLFA was formed in 1998 to give the fans of the National Hockey League a voice in matters such as this. The NHL acknowledges the existance of the NHLFA but will not grant it offical status until it reaches 75000 members. The NHLFA currently has 22267 members. Signing up for membership is free and can be done at

Hatcher Out of World Cup

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Derian Hatcher has withdrawn from the United States’ entry in the World Cup of Hockey. Hatcher’s agent, Pat Morris, said that the tough blueliner was worried about jumping into a high level of competition so quickly after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season.

“I think he’s concerned about the knee,” Team USA general manager Larry Pleau said. “I don’t think there’s any long-term concern at all. I think it’s just the short term.”

Hatcher is the fourth Red Wing to pull out of the tournament. He joins Steve Yzerman and Robert Lang, who withdrew from the Canadian and Czech squads, respectively, due to injuries. Mathieu Schneider quit the American team due to insurance worries.

“We were counting on both guys,” U.S. defenseman Chris Chelios said of Hatcher and Schneider. “That hurts. But we’ve got some young kids here that are going to get some experience.”

Fischer Added to Czech World Cup Roster

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer was named to the Czech Republic team for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, replacing injured Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Pavel Kubina.

Kubina was injured during the Stanley Cup Finals as his Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames in a seven-game series. Fischer’s last game of the season was also against Calgary, in Game Five of the second-round matchup that saw the Flames eliminate the Red Wings in six games.

Fischer was a healthy scratch in Game Six of that series, having struggled throughout the season after returning from a torn anterior-cruciate ligament the season before.

Fischer was a key member of the Red Wings’ 2002 Stanley Cup Champtionship team, playing the best season of his young career alongside the veteran Chris Chelios, who will play for Team USA in the tournament.

Other Red Wings representing their respective countries at the World Cup include Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby for Canada, Derian Hatcher and Chelios for the United States, Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg for Sweden, and Pavel Datsyuk for Russia. Steve Yzerman and Robert Lang were forced to withdraw from the Canadian and Czech rosters, respectively, due to injuries.

Former Red Wing Brett Hull, who signed with the Phoenix Coyotes this summer, will play for the United States. Red Wings unrestricted free agent Mathieu Schneider has withdrawn from the tournament for insurance reasons, as he has yet to sign with an NHL team.

Hull Signs Two-year Deal with Coyotes

Former Red Wing Brett Hull signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday. The contract’s financial terms were not disclosed.

Hull, who ranks third all-time in NHL goals scored behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, played for the Red Wings for three seasons. He won his second career Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002.

“He is a dynamic player who creates excitement every time he enters the offensive zone,” Phoenix general manager Michael Barnett said.

Hull has scored 741 goals and added 649 assists in 1,264 career NHL games. He has also scored 103 goals and 87 assists in 202 career playoff games.

Wigns Sign Fischer to 3-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Monday that they had signed restricted free agent defenseman Jiri Fischer to a three-year deal. As per club policy, the financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Fischer was Detroit’s first-round pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and has spent his entire five-year career with the Red Wings.

“Jiri is a young and very talented player who is a big part of our future,” said Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland. “We’re happy to have him signed for the next three years.”

The 24-year-old Fischer has scored eight goals and added 44 assists in 283 career games. He flourished playing with veteran Chris Chelios during the 2001-02 season but missed most of the 2002-03 season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and spent 2003-04 trying to get back to the level of play he had reached two years earlier.

With Fischer’s signing, forward Pavel Datsyuk is left as Detroit’s lone restricted free agent. Defenseman Chris Chelios is an unrestricted free agent but is close to re-signing with the Red Wings. UFA Mathieu Schneider is not close to a deal with Detroit but is still listening to offers. Captain Steve Yzerman is a free agent in name only as he will be back with the Red Wings once he decides whether or not he will reitre.

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