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bringing together more than 100 of the countrys
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CALGARY -- Hockey Canada begins an overhaul of its under-17 mens program this week by bringing together more than 100 of the countrys best 16-year-olds for a new camp. Along with 54 coaches, equipment managers and medical staff, the nine-day camp in Calgary will be "massive," according to Scott Salmond, vice-president of hockey operations at Hockey Canada. "You can imagine how many trainers we need," Salmond said. Ninety-six skaters and a dozen goaltenders from across Canada will descend Tuesday upon the Markin MacPhail Centre, which houses Hockey Canadas headquarters, an Olympic-sized rink and three NHL-sized surfaces. The horde will be divided into teams. In addition to playing three games, each player will participate in on-ice skills development and learn national-team systems. Their fitness will be tested, theyll be fitted for equipment and theyll participate in seminars on everything from media relations to nutrition. Among the players summoned are Toronto defenceman Jake Chychrun, the first overall pick in this years OHL draft by Sarnia. Defenceman Luke Green of Bedford, N.S., was the first player drafted in the QMJHL by Saint John. Edmonton forward Tyler Benson was chosen first in last years WHL draft by Vancouver. Sixty-six invitees will be chosen to represent their country at the revamped World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The date of the annual tournament held in Canada has been changed as well as the host countrys participation in it. Instead of five teams representing Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, West and Pacific regions, Canada will enter three teams mixing players from different parts of the country. That means the Canadians will now play in the tournament under the banner of their country, and not their geographical region. "We expect to have a large majority of our players identified at the camp and then go out and scout the remaining few on the bubble once the camp is over and before we name our teams," head scout Ryan Jankowski said. The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge has traditionally been held in late December during its 22 years, but the event will be Nov. 2-8 in Sarnia, Ont. That date was changed to allow young hockey players to go home for the December holiday break. For those major junior teams with players away at the world under-20 championships, the younger players on those clubs will get more ice time, Salmond said. Canadians in the Under-17 Challenge have gone on to play for the under-18, under-20, world and Olympic mens teams. The tournament includes European countries as well as the United States. Ilya Kovalchuk, Rick Nash, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Nathan MacKinnon are among the 1,300 NHL draft picks who have participated in it, according to Hockey Canada. The new camp was conceived to give Canadas 16-year-olds intensive preparation for the world stage sooner under the slogan "The Canadian way," Salmond explained. "Our idea is to identify our best players earlier and then to have them play together more often," he said. "When they were in a regionalized model, I think we were still doing a good job of identifying our best players regionally, but not nationally. They stayed in regional model until they came through to under-18s." "Now, we have the best players in the country and they come all to one place. We end up picking three teams that will have no regional bias. Kids from Quebec will play with kids from Alberta. It gives us an opportunity for our best players to be mixed together and for them to play together more often." Of the 108 players summoned to Calgary, 10 are from B.C., 14 are Albertans, two are from Saskatchewan, six are Manitobans, Ontario has 40 and Quebec has 25. Nova Scotia will have nine players at camp and there are two from Newfoundland and Labrador. The provincial branches of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon are not represented among the skaters. "There are some branches who dont have a player coming from the 108," Salmond said. "Part of our job is to work with our branches and those branches who feel like Hey, we didnt have a player this year, we need to have more next year that helps us in our development. It encourages people to do more." Jankowski and four regional scouts compiled the camp roster. The head scout says the camps format will force those players considered the best in their region to compete harder for the opportunity to play in the under-17 tournament. "He is now put out of his comfort zone and comparing himself to players from other areas," Jankowski said. The coaches of the Red, Black and White teams and the six assistants will run on-ice sessions. Jean-Francois Houle of the QMJHLs Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Sheldon Keefe of the OHLs Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Dan Lambert of the WHLs Kelowna Rockets are the head coaches. Each province will send their 2015 Canada Games coach to the Calgary camp to be a guest coach. One other reason for the program overhaul is Canadas under-20 mens hockey team finished fourth at the last two world junior championships after 14 consecutive years in the medals. Canada needs to find and develop the right players to get back on the podium, Salmond said. "Everything in our organization is performance-related," Salmond said. "Our goal is to be the best and to win gold medals." Larry Bird Jersey . City has reached new heights under manager Manuel Pellegrini as they transition from big spending/immediate impact to perennial contender. Yaya Toures seeming discontent Tuesday may complicate that, as does the little issue of Financial Fair Play. Greg Monroe Jersey . 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He is the only player from Mercer to make the NBA. Mitchell was drafted in the third round (54th overall) by the Houston Rockets in the 1985 NBA Draft. However, his road to the NBA was not an easy on, he signed 1989 as a free agent with the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves. Before entering the NBA, he played three years in the CBA where he helped the Rapid City (S.D.) Thrillers to a championship, and overseas in Frances top professional league for two seasons (1987-89). In 1989 Sports Illustrated wrote an article about Mitchell titled The Chance Of A Lifetime; At 26, Minnesotas Sam Mitchell is the oldest NBA rookie" In it author Steve Rushin gives a dettailed look at what life was like for Sam as an older rookie and some of the tough experiences he went through to get to the NBA.dddddddddddd Including a time where he actually reenrolled in Mercer. There are some great quotes in the article including: "Magic Johnson shook my hand before the game last night," says 26yr old Mitchell "He told me, Congratulations, Sam. Youre having a great season. When we played Golden State, Chris Mullin said, Good to have you in the league, Sam. Sam. These guys are All-Stars—how do they know me?" It goes onto describe Mitchell as one of the toughest defenders in the league with assignments like Rockets centre Hakeem Olajuwon and young shooting guard named Michael Jordan. 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