December 12, 2010
The future PM is showing he can go left if needed. Florida Panthers first-rounder Erik Gudbranson, who is so polished by teenage hockey players standards that the joke is that he might consider running for office once this playing deal is done, has made sure to align himself with a powerful running mate among the Team Canada hopefuls:
"Gudbranson found himself teamed up with returning veteran Ryan Ellis in what could be a dynamic defense pair at the selection camp for Canada's world junior championship team.
"It wasn't one of the pairings listed by the team, but players sorted themselves into duos for drills in the opening day of the three-day camp as they prepared for their first intrasquad game Sunday night at the Mastercard Centre, the practice facility for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies.
"And so what if both are right-handed shots and that the rangy Gudbranson was playing on the left side?
" 'They put themselves together,' assistant coach Andre Tourigny said. 'It was a message to the coaches, I think.' " (The Canadian Press)
For the record, Gudbranson, 18, played the right side alongside the Everett Silvertips' Ryan Murray during Sunday's Red-White intrasquad game. However, the above illustrates how intent the Kingston Frontenacs defenceman is on wearing the Maple Leaf. Team Canada coach Dave Cameron told Sunaya Sapurji a get-out-of-the-comfort-zone message has been imparted to 40 players.
"We in our meetings (Saturday) with the players, both as a group and one-on-one, and that's what we told them don't read (into it)," Cameron says. "If you're normally a centreman and we have you on the wing, that doesn't mean your odds of making this team have gone down. It's what you do in these intersquad games that is going to determine it and if you’re good enough, we'll find a spot for you."
Come to think of it, Gudbranson patrolled the left side earlier this season with Kingston. It did not occur to ask (forgiveness, it was after a 10:30 a.m. game in Ottawa) to ask if Gudbranson was doing that with an eye on the world junior tourney.
Meantime, Ellis and Gudbranson's OHL teams in Windsor and Kingston stand to be the among the teams most affected by players' international obligations. With the star defenders both absent, Windsor slipped by Kingston by 7-6 on Sunday. Kingston has zero regulation-time wins in six games since Gudbranson was suspended and subsequently left for Canada's camp.)
Meantime, please help that Gudbranson-as-future-PM meme get traction. He can appeal to both Quebec and western voters, since he is bilingual and is not above playing rough.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. (Photo: Aaron Bell, OHL Images.)