Team Canada’s Connor McDavid cleared for contact
Connor McDavid at the World Junior practice in Toronto on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (Veronica Henri/QMI Agency)
ST. CATHARINES — Connor McDavid has been cleared for contact.
The 17-year-old superstar participated fully in Canada’s practice at the Meridian Centre on Monday, centring a line with Nic Petan on the left wing and Robby Fabbri on the right.
McDavid suffered a broken bone in his right hand during a fight in a game on Nov. 11 and has not played since. Hockey Canada’s original hope had been that McDavid would be ready to play in Canada’s exhibition game on Dec. 21 in Ottawa against Sweden, and there should be more clarity as to when McDavid actually plays as the week progresses.
It’s about getting his timing back.
“That’s the main thing,” McDavid said. “I’ve been almost bag skating for three weeks. My legs feel great, the legs aren’t too much of an issue at all. Getting the hands back is coming along, getting a little better.
“The only thing that has to come is timing. The only way to do that is through competition and through contact and all that.”
The Vancouver Canucks announced on Monday that forward Bo Horvat will not be loaned to Canada for the tournament. That leaves forward Curtis Lazar of the Ottawa Senators as the lone NHL player who could be loaned.
“Bo Horvat has proven he can contribute to the success of the Vancouver Canucks,” general manager Jim Benning told the Canucks’ web site. “He is a solid two-way player, strong in the faceoff circle and displays a maturity beyond his years. We’re very pleased with Bo’s play and look forward to watching him develop as an NHL player.”
The world junior selection camp continues at the Meridian Centre through Thursday. Canada will return to Toronto to play Russia on Friday in an exhibition game at the Air Canada Centre.
Before McDavid was hurt, he had 51 points (16 goals and 35 assists) in 18 games for the Erie Otters. He’s the probable No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL draft and the team that selects him immediately will be on the road to respect.
Canada coach Benoit Groulx understands McDavid will garner lots of attention, but issued a reminder.
“I don’t think it is the Connor McDavid show,” Groulx said.
“I think Connor is one of our good players, but he is still a young man. Our goal is to build a team. Connor is one of the 22 players who is going to be part of this team, and he is going to be an important piece. I don’t feel that he has got to make the difference.
“I don’t see (that) if he is not there, we have no chance. Or if he is on the ice, that I expect a goal all the time. It’s not the case. I expect him to be himself and play like he has been playing and that’s it.
“I expect the team to find a way to make a difference.”
Canada’s other lines at practice on Monday were: Max Domi-Sam Reinhart-Anthony Duclair; Nick Ritchie-Nick Paul-Brayden Point; Lawson Crouse-Frederik Gauthier-Jake Virtanen; Michael Dal Colle-Jason Dickinson-Rourke Chartier.
Defence pairs were Darnell Nurse-Shea Theodore; Samuel Morin-Madison Bowey; Josh Morrissey-Haydn Fleury; Dillon Heatherington-Joe Hicketts.
After Groulx made five cuts on Sunday, one defenceman and two forwards still must be released in order for Canada to get down to a 22-man roster.
Canada opens the 2015 world junior on Dec. 26 in Montreal with a game versus Slovakia.
There is no plan yet for when the next round of cuts will occur.
Meanwhile, Canada’s players and coaching staff were slated on Monday afternoon to have mumps vaccinations, a measure against the illness that recently has hit some NHL players including Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry and Ryan Suter.
“I think we have to be careful,” Groulx said. “It’s better to be precautionary than have a problem after.”