Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Brewer declines Team Canada invite
by JIM SWANSON, Citizen Sports Editor
Eric Brewer has too much respect for the Maple Leaf to put on a jersey on when he isn't prepared.
The Edmonton Oilers defenceman, who graduated from the WHL's Prince George Cougars, declined an invitation to join Team Canada for the world championship, which is to be played in Vienna and Innsbruck, Austria, April 30 through May 15.
Brewer was called by Team Canada general manager Steve Tambellini, but told Tambellini he was better to use the roster spot on someone else.
That someone else may have been another former Prince George junior — Montreal Canadiens blueliner Sheldon Souray, who was a surprise addition to Team Canada.
"I was asked — they called a while ago," Brewer, who turns 26 on Sunday, said Tuesday from his home in Edmonton. "At this point, I just had to be honest with these guys and tell them I'm not ready to play, so get someone there who is. It's always tempting, but I had to say no."
Brewer, who played three seasons in Prince George, has made it a habit of answering the call, packing his bags and heading wherever he was needed to play hockey for his country.
It started in December of 1997 when he attended the final selection camp for the national junior team, and continued with four world championship appearances. The highlights of Brewer's career are helping Canada to gold at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and playing a prominent role in Canada's championship effort in September's World Cup victory.
"I've never said no," said Brewer, whose family lives in Kamloops. "I've gone to four world championships. I haven't skated all winter, basically. I've done lots of training stuff, and I've also got a number of other little things that are going on right now and I want to step away from hockey for a bit."
A big part of the frustration for Brewer, who has played six NHL seasons including four for the Oilers, stems from the ongoing NHL labour dispute, which has kept the players locked out since Sept. 15.
"We're hoping to play hockey (this) September," said Brewer, the star attraction of Brad May and Friends charity hockey game, played in December at the Multiplex. "What are the chances of that? I'd love to give you an answer, I really would. But your guess is as good as mine. When you're not in the meetings it's so hard to determine whether or not it's going well, or get a read on it. We can read whatever we want, but no one knows.
"At some point there has to be some rational talks and some realistic dialogue. We all have to realize this isn't what anyone needs, it isn't helping either side, and the system that will be in place will benefit the owners and the teams. It's a matter of how much they want it to work for them."
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