Tourney starts Dec. 26 in Finland

Updated: December 16, 2003, 12:50 PM ET
Associated Press

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will lead Canada's top prospects at the World Junior Hockey Championships. He was named to the team Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Fleury, who was the MVP of the 2003 tournament and the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL draft, is currently on loan from Pittsburgh.

Fleury has a record of 4-10-2 with a 3.20 goals-against average in 17 games with the last-place Penguins this year.

Buffalo Sabres prospect Daniel Paille joins Fleury as the only holdovers from last year's silver-medal winning team. Paille, 19, was named captain by Canada coach Mario Durocher.

The tournament will be held Dec. 26-Jan. 6 in Helsinki and Hameenlinna, Finland.

While on loan for what is expected to be nearly one month, Fleury will continue earning his $1.24 million salary.

Though the Penguins aren't obligated to pay Fleury, Penguins general manager Craig Patrick said the team is treating the situation as if the goalie was still a member of the club since he has NHL-related expenses, including his Pittsburgh apartment.

Pittsburgh is the fourth-lowest scoring team in the league this season and has seen the league's largest drop-off in average attendance this year.

In addition, Mario Lemieux, who owns the team, hasn't skated in nearly six weeks after hurting his hip, and apparently is not close to returning.

The Penguins expect to lose $5 million this season.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press