August 27, 2009 / 3:41 AM / 8 years ago

Puck stops here, Canada searches for Olympic netminder

<p>Goalie Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils makes a save during the White team's practice at Team Canada's Olympic hockey training camp in Calgary August 26, 2009.Todd Korol</p>

CALGARY (Reuters) - Like a great actor, New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur rarely auditions for roles -- he accepts them.

With a resume boasting an Olympic gold medal from the 2002 Winter Games, three Stanley Cups and four Vezina trophies as the NHL's top goaltender, Brodeur, if healthy, is one of the few players at a four-day orientation camp for Canada's ice hockey team virtually guaranteed a place at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

However, the 37-year-old, who also has more career wins than any other NHL goalie, will leave the camp on Friday not knowing whether he will get the main part or a supporting role.

With four others battling for the goaltending spotlight, Brodeur will have to be at his All-Star best in the months leading up to the Olympic Games.

"Every time you participate in a camp like this, with talent like there is here, it's hard to have the feeling that you have the job," Brodeur told reporters after practice on Wednesday.

"Everybody is there to take it away. I was never really backup all my life, I'm not going to go and do that now."

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo -- Brodeur's backup at the 2006 Turin Olympics -- has long been tipped as his eventual successor and whether that moment arrives in February remains to be seen.

Three other goaltenders -- Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins), Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes) and Steve Mason (Columbus Blue Jackets) are also battling for one of three spots on the Canadian roster.

'THEY WILL DECIDE'

Neither Brodeur nor Luongo distinguished themselves in last season's NHL playoffs while Fleury caught the eye with resilient and occasionally spectacular displays in helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.

Ward also brings impressive credentials, backstopping Carolina to a Stanley Cup in 2006, capturing the Conn Smythe honor as playoff MVP to go along with a world championship gold medal.

The 21-year-old Mason also made a big first impression, recording a league-high 10 shutouts in his rookie season and earning the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

"We're not going to figure it out at this camp," said Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock.

"The good thing is we have three months to watch these guys each and every day to see who is at the top of their game.

"We are just going to watch, they're going to earn the right to be on this team. They will decide."

In reality it will be Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman, with input from his coaching staff, who will decide and it could be the biggest decision he makes.

One or two big saves often make the difference between a gold or silver medal or winning a Stanley Cup.

Yzerman, a former Red Wing and now a member of Detroit's management staff, is well aware of Fleury's ability to come up with the big save -- the Pittsburgh netminder dove across his net in the final seconds of Game Seven to rob Nicklas Lidstrom of a certain goal and clinch the Stanley Cup for the Penguins.

Editing by Peter Rutherford; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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