It’s probably a good thing Adam Oates wasn’t asked about the World Championships when he was on a Toronto radio station on Friday.
The former coach of the Capitals is not very fond of the international tournament that is taking place for the next two weeks in Minsk, Belarus, once calling it the “Who Cares Tournament.” [OK, so we slightly edited Oates’ description].
But even Oates had to be a little stunned to see Canada fall to France 3-2 in a shootout on Friday in the Canadians’ opening game of the 16-team tournament. It was the first time since 1995 that Canada had lost to France at the Worlds.
Team Canada coach Dave Tippett reacted to the loss by juggling his forward lines, separating the Capitals’ dynamic duo of Jason Chimera and Joel Ward during Saturday’s practice.
Chimera, who was named an alternate captain earlier this week, skated on a third line with fellow alternate captain Kyle Turris and Matt Read. Ward skated on a fourth line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Mark Scheifele. Chimera and Ward played with Scheifele on Friday.
Meanwhile, Troy Brouwer remained on a second line with Cody Hodgson and Nazem Kadri.
While they’re spending quality time in Minsk, perhaps Chimera, Ward and Brouwer can find a way to get Team Canada captain Kevin Bieksa in a Caps jersey.
Bieksa, 32, just completed his eighth season with the Canucks, but could be on the trade market this summer. He is making his first appearance in international competition after appearing in 537 NHL games with Vancouver, and ranks as the sixth-highest scoring defenseman in franchise history, with 179 points.
The Canadians take on Slovakia later today, while Alex Ovechkin and the Russians face off against Finland on Sunday.
Ovechkin picked up a goal and an assist in Russia’s tournament-opening 5-0 win over Switzerland on Friday. Ovechkin, who played right wing under Oates for the past two seasons, spent most of Friday’s game patrolling the left side.