Able to play in only two games as a Phoenix Coyote this season while recovering from post-concussive syndrome, Krys Kolanos jumped at a chance to continue his comeback Friday, accepting an offer to play for Team Canada in the 2003 World Hockey Championships.
Canada has an exhibition game next Friday before the tournament kicks off April 26 in Finland, with Canada facing Belarus, Latvia and Sweden in its opening-round pool.
“It's a great honor to play for Canada, but it's also important for me to show people and prove to myself that I'm ready to rock again,'' said Kolanos, who has missed 102 of the Coyotes' last 115 games since being sent head-first into the boards by Buffalo's Vaclav Varada on Jan. 19, 2002. “I took a few hits in the two games I played, and I didn't have any problems.
“I felt pretty strong and my conditioning is good right now. This is a great chance to extend myself.''
Kolanos, who fills a roster spot opened when Coyotes teammate Chris Gratton pulled out of the tournament last week with an injury, will have a lot of familiar faces around him on the Canadian team. Phoenix's Sean Burke will be the No. 1 goaltender while winger Shane Doan is also on the squad, along with ex-Coyote Daniel Briere. And Kolanos will also re-team with Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley for the first time since the two Calgary natives shared the same line in the midget ranks with the AAA Calgary Buffaloes.
“If Dany and I wind up on the same line, it will be interesting to see if any of that old magic is still there,'' Kolanos said. “We've been working out and skating together (in Calgary) and we've had a good time.
Kolanos has already had some great moments in hockey — from scoring the game-winning goal in the 2001 NCAA Championship game with Boston College, to beating Hall of Famer-to-be Patrick Roy with a game-winning penalty shot a year later. But this is the first time he will represent his country in international competition, something he has always wanted to do.
“The chance to put on that maple leaf and know the country is counting on you, what a feeling that will be, especially after the excitement of winning the (2002) Olympic gold medal,'' he said. “It's something every kid in Canada dreams about.''