HARTFORD, CONN., AUG. 29 -- Although the Canada Cup stretches an already long season by almost six weeks, virtually every hockey player wants to participate.

At 30, Rod Langway might be expected to look for ways to lighten his work load. Instead, he has assumed the role of captain of a defense-oriented United States team and was a tireless checker during the Americans' 4-1 victory over Finland here Friday.

"This is fun," said Langway, who was partnered with Washington Capitals teammate Kevin Hatcher. "It's nice to get the guys from the States together and show that we can hold our own against the rest of the world.

"I'd lost six or seven pounds already and I probably lost another eight in the game. But it makes it a lot easier when you get to training camp. The skates are broken in and you've gotten rid of a lot of the aches and pains.

"This is a little different from training camp, where you have double sessions and play four exhibitions in different cities in four nights. I'll take this any time."

Another Capitals defenseman, Scott Stevens, would like to take it, too -- if he could get a chance. But he was cut by Team Canada Thursday night, the last player cut before the start of the tournament.

It was especially difficult for him to take, because he was also the last one cut in 1984. Then there were memories of February, when he was on a preliminary list for the NHL team at Rendez-Vous 87, then removed without explanation when the roster was announced.

He took the latest cut very hard, according to Canadian Press, which quoted him as stating that he never again would play for Canada and will consider taking out U.S. citizenship.

There was speculation that Team Canada's management, specifically the Philadelphia pair of General Manager Bobby Clarke and Coach Mike Keenan, might be playing with the volatile Stevens' head when they elected to keep Flyer Doug Crossman and Quebec's Normand Rochefort while sending Stevens home.

However, Tom Watt of Vancouver, a member of Canada's coaching staff, said no.

"Scott Stevens just wasn't good enough," Watt said. "They had five defensemen who made the team without any doubt {among them Washington's Larry Murphy} and it came down to picking two from Stevens, Crossman and Rochefort. The other two were better in camp.

"Everybody who's cut from a team is unhappy. Nobody could have been more unhappy than Wendel Clark when he was cut. But Scott shouldn't have said the things he did.

"I was on the coaching staff in 1984 when Glen Sather got ready to make the last cuts. He called Scott Stevens and James Patrick together and told them, 'You're good young kids and you can stay and practice with us, but you won't be able to play.'

"Call it pride or whatever, but where James Patrick was thrilled to do it, Scott left.

"In defense of Scott Stevens, though, I was on the coaching staff at the World Championships in 1985, when we won a silver medal, and Scott played very well. He also played well in 1987, until his hand was hurt. But you have to remember that people like Coffey and Bourque were not available."

Stevens could not be reached for comment and Capitals General Manager David Poile said he was unaware of the recently married defenseman's whereabouts.

Although he was credited with only one assist Friday, Bob Carpenter enjoyed an excellent game while centering Ed Olczyk and Joel Otto. He was a physical presence around the Finnish net, a feature of his game that was lacking a year ago, when he bounced from Washington to the New York Rangers to Los Angeles.

His 53-goal season for the Capitals in 1984-85 followed his first Canada Cup appearance and he remembers "everything came together that year. I really had a good time and it went on through the year. I've had a good camp this time and I hope it carries into the season."