With the World Cup training camps open and the pre-tournament games beginning on September 8, before the actual World Cup of Hockey begins on September 17, the teams have announced their captains.
San Jose Sharks captain, Joe Pavelski, will lead Team USA during the tournament. Pavelski’s assistant captains, will be Chicago Blackhawks forward, Patrick Kane and Minnesota Wild defenseman, Ryan Suter.
USA head coach, John Tortorella said, “Joe has been a great player for USA Hockey. He is a character guy. I can talk about a number of players that way. We just decided to go with Joe.”
Team USA plays their first pre-tournament game on Friday against Canada, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio at 7:00 PM. The game will mark the first time Kane, 27, will wear a letter in international play.
Tortorella added, “I want him to take more responsibility now. He is ready for more responsibility of a US team, where before it was, `Kaner, go play.’ And he is really good at it. I think he is ready for more responsibility, and I am ready to give it to him because he deserves it.”
In addition to Pavelski, Kane and Suter wearing the letters on their sweater, Team USA will also include David Backes of the Boston Bruins, Zach Paris of the Wild, Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in their leadership group.
Tortorella said, “The great news for us is that we have plenty of leaders in the room. In the end, in addition to our captain and alternate captains, we selected four other leaders and those seven guys will form an overall leadership group for our team. Our goal is simple, and that is to win the World Cup.”
Pavelski becomes the first forward to wear the `C’ for Team USA in a World Cup. Defensemen, Chris Chelios led the team in 2004 and Brian Leetch wore it in 1996.
Team USA will begin tournament play on September 17, when they take on Team Europe at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Washington Capitals captain, Alexander Ovechkin will captain Team Russia with Pittsburgh Penguins forward, Evgeni Malkin and recently retire Detroit Red Wing forward, Pavel Datsyuk serving as his alternate captains.
Ovechkin, 31, last led the Russian team during the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. The Russian team won the gold during that tournament.
Malkin, 30, is an assistant captain with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Datsyuk, 38, wore the `A’ for the Detroit Red Wings the past 10 seasons, before retiring in June, to play for SKA St. Petersburg, in the Kontinental Hockey League this fall.
Ovechkin said, “It is a huge honor to represent Team Russia in this tournament. It does not matter if it was me or Malkin or Datsyuk who is the captain. Everybody has to be a captain out there and be a leader.”
Blackhawks leftwing, Artemi Panarin said, “This is the right choice. I am happy for [Ovechkin]. He has a lot of respect inside our team.”
Capitals teammate, Evgeny Kuznetsov added that the respect that Ovechkin has around the team has shown since the beginning of training camp.
Kuznetsov said, “He is a leader in the locker room and on the ice. You can see in every meeting before you start to talk about something. All of the guys listen to him, he has great experience and he feels pretty comfortable in that position.”
In discussing how his leadership will be different with the Russian from his style with the Capitals, he smiled and joked, “I can speak the Russian language.”
The Russian team is hoping for a different outcome, in the World Cup, then from their last three Olympic games, where they failed to medal.
The first pre-tournament action for Russia will be against Team Czech Republic, at Yubileyny Sports Palace on Thursday at 12:30 PM, Eastern Time. After three pre-tournament games, they will open their World Cup battles against Team Sweden on September 18, at 3:00 PM.
Team Europe will be led into the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, with Los Angeles Kings captain, Anze Kopitar sporting the `C’ on his sweater.
Coach Ralph Krueger told NHL.com, “The main reason we took Anze is, really, that he is very symbolic of what Team Europe is about. As the lone National Hockey League player from Slovenia, [Kopitar] has gone through so much adversity to become the player that he is.”
Some of the other countries that are more represented here – Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia – they have already broken the ice. Whereas when you look at [Pierre-Edouard] Bellemare, and Kopitar and [Thomas Vanek], you see individual nations and [Mats] Zuccarello, they are all alone.”
Those four players, are their country’s lone representative in the tournament. Kopitar, from Slovenia, Bellemare from France, Vanek from Austria and Zuccarello from Norway.
Kopitar will be assisted in the leadership of the squad by Boston Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara and Mark Streit from the Philadelphia Flyers. Frans Nielsen and Dennis Seidenberg will round out the leadership group from Team Europe.
Team Sweden will be led by Vancouver Canuks captain Henrik Sedin as his twin brother and teammate Daniel Sedin and Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson will serve as the assistant captains for their country during the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
The tournament will mark the first time that Karlsson will wear a letter on his sweater in international play, while representing his country.
On being named as one of the leaders on the team, he said that he was honored and that it was a huge challenge that he was willing to accept.
He told NHL.com, “It is something I see as a challenge, to be better and do more, to want to be a better player and do more.”
Former Senators captain, and advisor to Team Sweden, Daniel Alfredsson, has noticed the development of Karlsson with each passing season. Alfredsson has also been a mentor to Karlsson.
Alfredsson said, “To me, he has done a good job of maturing to be more responsible and wanting to have that role while also keeping his energy and enthusiasm, which I think is what makes him fun to be around in the locker room or just off the ice.”
He added, “He has a great personality, brings energy where ever he goes. He has always been comfortable, but he has been getting better and better and better in dealing with the team and getting everybody on the same page.”
Late last month Team Canada named Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby the captain for Canada during the World Cup with Blackhawks captain, Jonathan Toews and Montreal Canadiens defenseman, Shea Weber serving as the team’s alternate captains. More on that story can be found at Everything NHL, for a link to the article, http://enhlinc.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2016-08-30T19:32:00-07:00&max-results=7.