Canadian national junior team coach Brent Sutter has absolute trust in Griffin Reinhart. How far does that trust go? Far enough that he is comfortable playing a bit shorthanded on the blue line for the first three games of the upcoming World Junior Championship tournament, which begins Dec. 26 in Malmo, Sweden. Reinhart, the star defenseman for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, must serve the final three games of a four-game suspension delivered at last year's World Junior Championship for a high-sticking infraction committed against American forward Vincent Trocheck in the final preliminary game. Reinhart missed the semifinal, which Canada lost, and now must still serve the remainder of his ban. "We weren't exactly sure what to do, but after the Subway Series was over, it was pretty clear that if we could have Griffin Reinhart for the last four game of the tournament, we would rather have that than not have him," Sutter told NHL.com on Sunday, the last day of Canada's selection camp at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence. "At that point, I haven't thought about it since then." Reinhart only played in one Subway Series game, a 3-2 loss to the Russian team in Red Deer, Alberta, but he had a goal and was plus-2. He was one of Canada's most dominant players. But, even with all that, Reinhart's inclusion on the Canadian WJC team is not without its critics and does leave the team in a bit of a bind. When the Canadians hand in their final roster on Dec. 19, it will only have seven defensemen. That means the Canadians will play the first three games with six available defenders, leaving no wiggle room if a player is injured, struggles or is suspended. But it is a chance Canada management is willing to take. Reinhart’s teammates are willing to wait too. "With Griff out, that's obviously a big loss," said Mathew Dumba, a candidate to play on the top pair with Reinhart when he returns. "He's a great player. I guess it is something we are not focusing on too much. We have guys that can step up and play a big role, and when Griff does get back, the more the merrier I guess." But why exactly is everyone willing to make such a roster gamble in a tournament that means so much to Canadians? Because Reinhart is simply a game-changing talent.
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Canada willing to wait for suspended Reinhart
NHL.com | Dec 17