GM Doug Armstrong and coach Mike Babcock revealed the reasons behind giving Sid the ‘C’ and bestowing letters on Jonathan Toews and Shea Weber. Plus, how Bouwmeester fits into the defense corps with Duncan Keith out.
It was the most obvious choice, but there was also a pretty good reason for it. Team Canada named Sidney Crosby captain of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey squad, with Jonathan Toews and Shea Weber earning ‘A’s on their sweaters as alternate captains. So what went into the decision?
“They’re great, great men who have distinguished themselves not only with their ability, but also their relentless drive,” said coach Mike Babcock. “They play their best in the biggest moments. They make people better and they understand that team success is more important than individual success.”
Crosby and Toews have both won multiple Stanley Cups, while all three own gold medals from the past two Olympics. Canada’s men have dominated the international scene recently, winning the past two World Championships, along with those Olympic golds.
The fact Crosby and Toews also embody the fast and dogged two-way game that has won Canada all those titles recently isn’t a coincidence, as Babcock noted that spending a lot of time in the offensive zone is part of Canada’s master plan once again.
On the back end, Weber brings experience, but also size, physicality and a bomb point shot.
Speaking of defense, the team’s brass also addressed the latest injury replacement for the squad, which saw Duncan Keith bow out and his slot given to Jay Bouwmeester. Not only does Bouwmeester play for Canada GM Doug Armstrong in St. Louis, but he also won Olympic gold in Sochi.
A lot of Internet eyebrows were raised when Bouwmeester was picked over, say, P.K. Subban or Mark Giordano, but Armstrong doesn’t see the move as a straight-up swap.
“I don’t think you replace a Duncan Keith,” he said. “We’re going to be a group of seven back there.”
Both Armstrong and Babcock did acknowledge that Bouwmeester being a left-handed shot (like Keith) helped his case. Matching lefties with righties on defense has practically become orthdoxy in the NHL and Bouwmeester might even line up with his St. Louis defense partner, righty Alex Pietrangelo, for the World Cup (though Babcock said he hasn’t planned that far ahead yet).
Team Canada had a meeting of the minds on the matter and Hall of Famer Rob Blake, who is part of the team’s front office, was leaned on heavily for advice. As a former defenseman himself, Blake revealed that switching sides isn’t as easy as you might think, even for an elite blueliner.
With Keith and Jamie Benn both pulling out of the tournament recently, there were questions about others. Armstrong said that players were informed early in the process to keep the team updated about injuries during the summer. Philadelphia center Claude Giroux, for example, had off-season hip surgery, but has told Team Canada that he is ready to go for the World Cup.