Sidney Crosby will once again wear the “C” internationally — on Thursday, it was announced that Crosby will captain Team Canada at the upcoming World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.
Dallas’ Jason Spezza and Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis will serve as alternates.
Crosby, 27, previously captained Canada to gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He’s also twice served as an alternate for his country — once at the Worlds in 2006 (when he scored 16 points in nine games, becoming the youngest scoring champ in tourney history) and again at the ’10 Olympics in Vancouver, where he was part of a leadership group that included captain Scott Niedermayer, and fellow alternates Chris Pronger and Jarome Iginla.
Crosby famously scored the “golden goal” for Canada at those Vancouver games, potting the OT winner in the tournament finale against the United States.
Whenever you’re talking about an award that seeks to recognize the best player in the league, any decision is going to be contested. The same can be true for the list of finalists. Now that we know that Montreal’s Carey Price, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and the Islanders’ John Tavares are this year’s Hart Trophy finalists, was there anyone that deserved to be on that list that was excluded?
Below are three potential alternatives. Each of them had great seasons, but there are also understandable reasons why they didn’t make the cut. Do you agree with those reasons though?
1) Devan Dubnyk – Perhaps the most obvious snub. When the Wild acquired Dubnyk on Jan. 14, they were a struggling franchise that seemed doomed to fall short of the playoffs. Then Dubnyk posted an incredible 1.78 GAA and .936 save percentage in 39 contests to make Minnesota one of the best teams in the second half. He was likely excluded in part because he wasn’t with Minnesota for the full 2014-15 campaign and partially due to the presence of Price on the list. Goaltenders tend to be a tough sell for the Hart Trophy and having them take up two of the three slots might have been asking for too much.
2) Jamie Benn – This year’s Art Ross Trophy winner (35 goals, 87 points in 82 contests) didn’t end up warranting a spot among the Hart Trophy finalists. It’s easy to see why though: The Dallas Stars weren’t a playoff squad and MVP awards take the success of the team into consideration. Still, he had one of the best seasons out of this year’s crop of forwards.
3) Sidney Crosby – Crosby is the latest Hart Trophy winner, but he wasn’t able to defending his spot as the MVP. He took a noticeable step back offensively, going from 104 points to 84 in 77 contests in 2014-15. His team’s struggles in the second half of the campaign likely didn’t do him any favors either. He had a great season though with his 84-point total being good enough for third in the league’s scoring race.
Still, Team Canada GM Nill didn’t expect Crosby to play. And he certainly didn’t expect Crosby to be the one to reach out to him.
“I was going to give him a call out of respect, just to see if he wanted to go,” Nill told TSN 1290. “Well, it was the opposite way. As soon as [the Penguins were eliminated], he reached out to me right away and said, ‘I want to be part of this team.’”
Among the “high-end, young kids” that Crosby will be skating with in the Czech Republic are forwards Claude Giroux, Matt Duchene, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, and Ryan O’Reilly, while on defense, there’s 19-year-old Aaron Ekblad.
“They’re the new guys that are kind of taking over Hockey Canada, so it’s going to be very exciting to watch,” said Nill.
Team Canada opens the tournament Friday against Latvia.