VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Why deny a young man's Christmas dream if the timing is right?
That's essentially how Rangers coach Alain Vigneault explained the decision to lend 19-year-old rookie Anthony Duclair to Team Canada for the World Junior championships.
"I spoke to Anthony . . . before leaving for Detroit [last week] to ask if he had given any thoughts to representing his country, and he told me very clearly that if he had the opportunity, it would be something he'd like to do," Vigneault said Saturday. "Growing up as a young Canadian boy -- Christmas? It's the World Juniors."
Duclair, who grew up outside of Montreal, is attending the team's training camp, which began Thursday.
"Anybody, player or coach, that gets to go to that tournament, it's a good thing," said Vigneault, who has been involved twice. "Considering where our team [the Rangers] is right now, we just felt that for his development right now, it's probably the best thing to do. It'll give him a chance to play under a lot of pressure with the best of his age group."
Vigneault said he doesn't know where Duclair -- who had a goal and six assists for the Rangers in 18 games -- will play in January when the tournament is over. It'll either be with the Rangers or with his former junior team, the Quebec Remparts.
"I told him very clearly: 'Don't think that us sending you there means that you're not coming back,' '' Vigneault said. 'But don't think that us sending you there necessarily means that you are coming back.' We'll let the tournament go by. We've got three weeks to a month before we have to make a decision on that, so we'll see how our team is doing and how he's doing and go from there."