A broken left foot will keep NHL scoring champion Sidney Crosby at home but 18-year-old Penguins teammate Jordan Staal is on his way to Moscow to join older brother Eric on the team.
Canada officially has 14 players on its roster – nine forwards, three defencemen and two goalies. Invitations have also been extended to other players who have recently been eliminated from the playoffs.
One that isn’t expected to join the team is New York Islanders forward Ryan Smyth, an unrestricted free agent who is nursing an undisclosed injury. Smyth has played in seven world championships, two Olympics and a World Cup for Canada.
Crosby told reporters in Pittsburgh that he played the final 2½ weeks of the regular season and the playoffs with the broken foot.
He led the world championship in scoring as an 18-year-old last year in Latvia and would loved to have joined Staal in Russia.
“It would have been a huge thrill to play for Team Canada,” Crosby said Saturday as the Penguins cleaned out their lockers at Mellon Arena.
Jordan Staal led the entire NHL with seven short-handed goals this season. He finished his rookie season with 29 goals and 42 points in 81 games.
Many had the teenager pegged to spend another year with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes before he earned a spot with the Penguins out of training camp last fall. He never looked back.
Staal is still young enough that he could play for Canada at next year’s world junior championship, although the Penguins will surely hold on to him as they did this year.
His brother, Eric, is one of four Carolina Hurricanes who have committed to joining Canada as well. The older Staal had 30 goals and 70 points in 82 games this season.
The first batch of Canadian players head to Finland on Sunday for a three-day training camp that will conclude with an exhibition game Tuesday. Canada opens the world championship with a game on April 28th against Germany.
Many had hoped Crosby would join the team after the Penguins were dispatched in the first round of the playoffs by Ottawa.
He believes he broke a bone in the foot while blocking a shot March 16 against Montreal. The injury didn’t force Crosby to miss any games.
He had five goals and nine assists in his final 11 regular season games and three goals and two assists in five playoff games.
“The first two weeks were pretty sore,” said Crosby. “After a couple of weeks, it starts to heal and it got a little better after that. It just needs time. . . . After a couple of weeks, it didn’t have any effect.”
The game after he was hurt, Crosby had a goal and an assist against Ottawa on March 18 before going scoreless in his next three games. He had two goals and an assist on March 25 against Boston and a goal and an assist on March 27 against Washington.
Crosby was in discomfort at times during the playoffs, but made certain he would not worsen the injury by playing.
Despite getting hurt, the 19-year-old Crosby had 120 points and became the youngest player ever to win the scoring title.
With files from The Associated Press