Martin replaces injured Leopold

Updated: August 25, 2004, 12:48 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | Special to ESPN.com

Defenseman Jordan Leopold, who suffered a concussion during Team USA's first exhibition game, has been replaced by the New Jersey Devils' Paul Martin, USA Hockey announced Wednesday.

Jordan Leopold
Leopold
Leopold, of the Calgary Flames, scored the insurance goal in Team USA's 3-1 victory over Canada on Monday, but he was injured during the third period.

"Unfortunately, Jordan will be unable to participate further in the World Cup due to his injury status," said Team USA general manager Larry Pleau. "However, this represents a tremendous opportunity for Paul Martin, who is a rising young star in the National Hockey League and a player who can contribute for us on defense."

Martin, 23, played in 70 games as a rookie last season and was fifth among NHL rookie defensemen in points with 24 and was a plus-12 for the season.

The loss of Leopold is especially troublesome for the Americans, who have been without Martin's New Jersey teammate, Brian Rafalski, since the first morning of practice Friday. Coach Ron Wilson has insisted that Rafalski was just suffering from some general "tightness" and that keeping him off the ice was merely precautionary.

But Rafalski, who was expected to skate before Monday's game, hasn't been able to answer the bell and isn't expected to play Wednesday.

Without Rafalski and Leopold and with Mathieu Schneider withdrawing because of insurance issues, the Americans' blue-line corps is long on grit and short on puck-moving savvy.

Another option available to Pleau was Bryan Berard, who recently re-signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and had 47 points last season although he was a dreadful minus-24.

Other potential replacements were another talented rookie, John-Michael Liles of Colorado, or Tom Poti of the New York Rangers, whose stock has fallen in recent years.

Team USA management had previously contacted Anaheim's Keith Carney about filling an earlier roster opening, but he declined.

Picture this

If ever there was a sign that this American team represents an end of an era, it's been brought home by the presence of two photographers brought in by Chris Chelios to chronicle the team's tournament preparation.

Chelios met the photographers through a mutual friend and then bumped into them three weeks ago. He approached USA Hockey about allowing the photographers access to the dressing room and team functions, and he's expecting some 3,000 shots in all.

"If we do win this, it might make a nice book," Chelios said. "I think for the young kids I think it'll make a nice souvenir."

He admitted the photographers were a bit overwhelmed by the speed of Monday's exhibition game.

"They've never shot sports in their lives," said Chelios who enters this World Cup of Hockey having played 101 games at the senior level for U.S. international teams.

Goalie job still up for grabs

The fine play of Ty Conklin and Rick DiPietro in Monday's win did little to clear up the murky U.S. goaltending situation. Conklin turned aside eight of nine shots he faced in the opening period, while DiPietro was solid in turning aside all 11 shots he faced in the final two periods. DiPietro did give the enthusiastic crowd of 14,817 some cause for concern with his perpetual wandering, but no damage was done.

Rick DiPietro
DiPietro
Students of the game

Both Robert Esche and DiPietro grew up idolizing Philadelphia great Ron Hextall although for different reasons.

DiPietro recalls being 11 or 12 years of age and sending letters to all the goalies in the National Hockey League. Hextall was the only one who responded.

"As a young kid, that meant everything to me," DiPietro said.

Now he tries to return the favor, although he recalled a second-grade student recently sending him a request for help on a school project that got to DiPietro at the project's deadline. He sent the information, however, and apologized that it might not arrive until the student was in the third grade.

Busy man

Esche, who expects to get his first taste of game action Wednesday in Ottawa, tried to keep himself busy over what was a short summer thanks to the Flyers' long playoff run. A golf tournament he runs to help children with serious medical problems raised almost $90,000. And then two weeks ago he got married.

Going global

The Canadians opened Monday's exhibition game with Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Shane Doan at the forward positions. Maltby and Draper are charter members of the Grind Line in Detroit although Doan has joined them at international play the last two years and they have dubbed themselves the "International Grind Line."

Quick transition

Eric Weinrich made his first appearance on the ice after being called in at the last minute to replace Derian Hatcher, who withdrew because of an injury. Weinrich had hoped to be on the ice Saturday, but bad weather delayed his flight into Columbus.

"I haven't been on the ice at all. The skill level of everybody here and the pace of play is pretty tough to jump right into," Weinrich said.

"It's pretty hard to pass up an opportunity like this. My wife was the one who actually got the call, and Larry Pleau said, 'You're going to hate me when you hear this, but we'd like Eric to come.' She was pretty supportive."

The veteran defenseman confessed that he wouldn't have been upset if he wasn't in the lineup for Monday's game. But the teams dressed an expanded roster, and Weinrich was on the ice looking none the worse for wear.

Why not McCabe?

Jay Bouwmeester
Bouwmeester
The decision by Team Canada to add Jay Bouwmeester (and, for that matter, Scott Hannan) ahead of Bryan McCabe, who finished fourth in Norris Trophy balloting last season, will continue to be the subject of second-guessing from armchair quarterbacks, especially if the young Canadian blue line corps continues to struggle as they did Monday in Columbus.

Canadian coach Pat Quinn's explanation that team scouts helped prepare a depth chart of players simply doesn't make sense given the loss of Chris Pronger and Rob Blake. McCabe brings both offensive pop (he had 53 points, third-highest total among NHL defenders and a plus-22 rating) and a solid physical presence.

He may not have the international experience that Bouwmeester has (top defenseman at the World Championships last spring), and he has a penchant for taking mindless penalties, but McCabe has a wealth of playoff experience and has evolved into a solid two-way player with good leadership skills.

Honoring Berglund

Art Berglund, senior director of international administration for USA Hockey and a past winner of the Lester Patrick Award for contributions to hockey in the United States, is about to be inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Berglund has been involved with American hockey for parts of five decades and has left his mark on 30 different national teams. Still, Berglund is excited about his recognition by the small northern sporting community.

Berglund, whose father worked in the timber industry as a sawyer, lived in the small northwestern Ontario community of Fort Frances until he was 18 years old.

"When I was born, the only hospital was on the Canadian side" of the Minnesota/Ontario border, Berglund said.

Berglund will join former NHLers Gary Bergman and Charlie Simmer in the Hall of Fame.

The only problem might be if the Americans win the World Cup of Hockey. Berglund might not want to show off any championship memorabilia to his hosts.

Plenty in reserve

Want to talk about depth?

The Canadians sat out three forwards and a goaltender for Monday's exhibition game. They included a Hall of Famer (Mario Lemieux), the defending Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner (Martin St. Louis), the defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner (Brad Richards) and a former Vezina and Hart winner (Jose Theodore).

There was some consternation among Canadian fans that Lemieux did not make the trip to Columbus, but Wayne Gretzky insisted the move wasn't prompted by any physical ailment but a decision that Lemieux would play in two of the three exhibition games, both in Ottawa.

An offensive start

Team Canada's high-octane offense was held without a shot for the first 12:22 of the third period in Monday's exhibition game. They were outshot 34-20 overall.

Canadian coach Pat Quinn has reunited Joe Sakic, Jarome Iginla and Simon Gagne, a trio that was one of Canada's best forward units at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Scott Burnside is a freelance writer based in Atlanta and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

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