Hockey Canada announced Friday that forward Charles Hudon of the QMJHL's Chicoutimi Sagueneens will not be able to play for Canada's National Junior Team at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Hudon, who suffered a lower back injury on Friday, will be replaced by forward Mark McNeill of the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders.
"When he came into training camp in Calgary he did have some lingering lower back pain, but nothing that wasn't manageable," said head coach Steve Spott.
"But, today in practice, he definitely pulled a muscle. They don't know if it's disc-related, it could be, and ultimately they said it was something that would definitely have an affect as we go forward. We met with Charles and, obviously, had to make a tough decision, one that's devastating to him, and one that, unfortunately, we had to make, but, ultimately, you can't go into an event like this with players that aren't up to 100 per cent."
McNeill, from Edmonton, has represented Canada at the 2011 IIHF World U18 Championship in Crimmitschau and Dresden, Germany and also played for Team Pacific at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Timmins, Ontario.
"It was a specific role that we were looking for, somebody that could play in a depth position, kill penalties, bring energy, bring grit," said Spott. "He's obviously a little bit bigger than Charles. He can play centre or the wing."
McNeill was a first round selection, 18th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He will join the team in Finland on Saturday, while Hudon will return to Canada on Sunday.
Canada's National Junior Team will play a final pre-competition game Saturday against Sweden in Helsinki at 9am et/6am pt on TSN and TSN.ca.
Canada will open the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship on Wednesday against Germany at 4:30am et/1:30am pt.