St. Paul, MN (Sports Network) - Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Brian Leetch, who captained the United States to victory in the 1996 World Cup, and Dallas Stars center Mike Modano were among 26 players named to compete for Team USA in the second-ever World Cup of Hockey later this summer.
Thirteen players from that team of eight years ago will return to the ice in defense of its championship in the inaugural competition. San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson will once again be behind the bench for the Americans.
Returning to join Modano up front are his teammate Bill Guerin, Detroit's Brett Hull, Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight of the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia's Tony Amonte, Bryan Smolinski of Ottawa, Brian Rolston of the Boston Bruins, and Colorado's Steve Konowalchuk.
Joining Leetch on the blue line are returnees Derian Hatcher, Chris Chelios and Mathieu Schneider, all members of the Detroit Red Wings.
The Americans will look to three new faces between the pipes as Robert Esche, still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs as the backstop for the Flyers, is complemented by Rick DiPietro of the Islanders and Edmonton's Ty Conklin, who represented Team USA in the recently completed World Hockey Championships.
The now-retired Mike Richter was the starting goalie back in 1996 for the United States and was the tournament MVP. His backups were Guy Hebert and Jim Carey.
Philadelphia's Jeremy Roenick, Jason Blake of the Islanders, Washington's Jeff Halpern, Chris Drury of Buffalo, Craig Conroy of Calgary and New Jersey's Jamie Langenbrunner are the other forwards that will be playing in this tournament for the first time.
Fellow World Cup rookies Brian Rafalski of New Jersey, Toronto's Ken Klee, Calgary's Jordan Leopold and Aaron Miller of the Los Angeles Kings round out the defensive corps.
Team USA will begin practicing in late August in Columbus, Ohio, and will face off against Canada on August 31 at the Bell Centre in Montreal to start the tournament.
There are also 13 returning members from the silver medal-winning team in the 2002 Olympics that came up short against Canada in the gold medal game.
The Americans picked up the bronze in the World Championships earlier this month.
I guess this means that Scott Gomez is being punished for bailing on the World Championships team at the last minute. I'm a little surprised that Eric Weinrich didn't make the team, although I'm not sure who you'd drop to add him.
A pretty decent looking team, but I can't see them winning it all.
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts" --Bertrand Russell
I could not agree more. Nine teams in thirteen years! That's madness. And the 'new markets' (places like Atlanta, Florida, Carolina) were lost causes going in and are proving to be dead to hockey's appeal.