Crosby to captain Canada at World Cup
TORONTO — Hockey Canada is going to mine a gold-medal leadership group for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
It seemed only fitting, given Canada’s success in Russia, that the defined leadership group would be given the honour once more at the revived international tournament, which begins in Toronto next month.
“They know me, I know them, they know what’s expected,” head coach Mike Babcock said of the decision during a Hockey Canada conference call. “And probably the thing that separates them from a lot of players is they play their best in the biggest moments. So for me, to lead a bunch of leaders, because everyone on our team is capable of being a captain, for them to lead a bunch of leaders is going to be important for our group to have success.”
All three performed on the biggest international stage more than two years ago where Canada captured its second straight gold medal at the Sochi Games.
Crosby scored the second goal of the gold-medal game against Sweden and was a dominant two-way force through the tournament. He also scored one of the biggest goals in Canadian hockey history four years earlier, icing the “golden goal” in overtime in Vancouver.
Toews, an unexpected star for the Canadians in 2010, opened the scoring against the Swedes in the 2014 gold-medal tilt, leading all Canadian forwards in minutes throughout the event. One half of Canada’s top pair on defence, Weber paced the group both in ice-time (nearly 22 minutes per game) and production, posting six points in six games (tied with Drew Doughty).
All three have also performed more than adequately for their NHL club during the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially Crosby and Toews, who have won five Stanley Cups combined, including the second from the Pittsburgh Penguins captain last spring.
Crosby, Toews, and Weber each served as captains for their respective NHL teams last season.
Just about every player on Canada’s World Cup roster, mind you, wears either an “C” or “A” for their various NHL clubs, including defenceman Alex Pietrangelo who was named the St. Blues 21st captain in franchise history on Thursday afternoon.
Babcock, speaking to the idea of leadership, said that while others may envision a big Hollywood speech, “in reality, (leadership is) more about what you do than what you say. And leadership is delivered in the big moments, under the gun. Leadership is saying the right thing in a calm, composed manner at the right times.
“Leadership is about making people accountable when things aren’t right and these guys — whether it be Sid, Weber or Toews — they all do it real well.”