Theodore replaces him on Canada's roster

Updated: August 18, 2004, 4:11 PM ET
SportsTicker

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour on Monday withdrew from the World Cup of Hockey, which is slated to start later this month.

Belfour informed Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky, citing a back problem.

"I talked to Eddie this morning and unfortunately he won't be able to play," Gretzky told the Canadian Press. "He's got a back problem, a back injury."

Belfour joins Steve Yzerman and Rob Blake as high-profile players from Canada's gold medal Olympic team in 2002 that have pulled out of the World Cup, which begins on August 29.

The 39-year-old Belfour would have been either the No. 2 or No. 3 netminder behind Olympic starter Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

Last season, Belfour posted a 34-19-6 record with a 2.13 goals-against average. He registered a .918 save percentage and recorded 10 shutouts.

Belfour was replaced on the roster by Jose Theodore of the Montreal Canadiens, who was named to team Monday night.

"I am very excited and honored to be named to Team Canada," Theodore said. "Anytime you have the opportunity to represent your country, it is a thrill, and I'm looking forward to being a part of Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey."

"We are disappointed that Eddie can't participate for Team Canada at the World Cup," Gretzky said. "But we are thrilled that Jose is a part of our team."

The 2001-2002 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, Theodore posted a career-high 33 wins last season to go along with six shutouts and a .919 save percentage.