Crosby wanted to make sure Toews was fine with Canadian captain decision

Jan 22, 11:54 AM

In advance of Wednesday's game between the Red Wings and Blackhawks, Detroit and Canada head coach Mike Babock revealed that Sidney Crosby was somewhat hesitant to accept the Olympic captaincy, out of respect for Jonathan Toews.

Toews, of course, has won two Stanley Cups as captain of the Blackhawks, while Crosby has lifted the Cup only once in Pittsburgh.

Babcock added he and Crosby hold Toews in "very high regard."

Toews later replied with this:

Jan 19, 11:18 AM

Sidney Crosby named captain of Team Canada; Toews, Weber tabbed as alternates

Jan 19, 11:18 AM

On Sunday, Hockey Canada announced the men who will captain Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and there was little surprise in who will don the "C."

Chicago Blackhawks forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Toews will serve as an alternate, along with Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber. 

At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Crosby, an assistant to captain Scott Niedermayer, scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the United States to capture gold.

Jan 8, 3:31 PM

Report: both Toews and Crosby will wear a letter for the 2014 Canadian Olympic team

Jan 8, 3:31 PM

At the 2010 Winter Olympic games in Vancouver, the Canadian men's Olympic ice hockey team was captained by Scott Niedermayer (since retired), while Chris Pronger (since retired except on paper), Sidney Crosby, and Jarome Iginla (not named to the 2014 Olympic team) acted as alternates. 

Needless to say only one of those four Hall of Fame caliber players will return for the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. So aside from Crosby, Canada will have to select a new leadership group.

Among the leading candidates to wear a letter for the Canadian men's ice hockey team, Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby are both expected to wear a letter of some sort at the upcoming Olympic tournament. From TSN's Pierre LeBrun:

"Toews will be in his second Olympics and there is some argument, and how could there not be after everything Toews has accomplished, but the betting money is obviously on Sidney Crosby, the best player in the world.

...  There is, I think, a special bond between those two guys and they'll both wear a letter in Sochi."

Jan 7, 12:30 PM

Analysis: Hockey Canada announces 2014 men's Olympic team

Jan 7, 12:30 PM

Canadians have worried about the goaltender position heading into the Sochi Olympics, but the reality is that if Carey Price stays healthy, their goaltending is as good as any country in the tournament. As fun as it would be to have the depth of some other countries, only one guy can play, and Price is an awfully appealing option. Luongo and Smith are more than capable as backups, so Canada should be a-okay in goal.

Quibbles were unavoidable on the back-end with no clear seventh and eighth d-man, but the top five or six guys are absolute rocks. Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber are all returning from the 2010 team, with the oldest among them being Keith, at just 30. Mix in Norris-hopeful Alex Pietrangelo and Norris-winner P.K. Subban, and you’re putting together a scary solid group. 

And of course, the forward group was always going to be talented-packed. Success just depends on how they work together.

By the time the roster announcement was made, I was resigned to the idea that Chris Kunitz was going to make the team, so I didn’t feel the need to flip my desk angry Redditor-style. What did catch me off-guard, was the inclusion of Patrick Marleau. Turns out my desk is bolted to the floor, which is probably for the better.

Personally, I’d have rather seen Giroux than Kunitz (Giroux has 32 points in his last 31 after a slow start), Neal than Marleau (Neal is fifth in points-per-game over the past three NHL seasons, third in goals per game, behind only Ovechkin & Stamkos), and I’d have been awfully close to taking Taylor Hall over Jeff Carter. Positions be damned, there’s more than enough centers and these guys can all play wing.

I’m just pleased there’s no glaring error (P.K. Subban made it! He really made it!), and this is behind us. The Canadian team looks as good as any country’s out there, as was to be expected. Finally, the 2014 Winter Olympics are starting to get real.

Jan 7, 12:28 PM

Top 5 snubs from the Canadian Olympic team

Jan 7, 12:28 PM

Team Canada announced the roster for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Tuesday, and while they'll still enter the 2014 Winter Olympics as the prohibitive favorite in the men's ice hockey event, there were several eyebrow raising personnel decisions.

Here are "five snubs" that surprised us:

Claude Giroux

With 255 points in his past 249 games, only three NHL players have scored more points since 2010-11 than Claude Giroux has. Three! 

And it's not like Giroux has simply benefited from some of the injury issues that have befallen other top players: he's fifth among all NHLers in points-per-game over the past four seasons as well.

Giroux can line-up at center or on the wing, so he's versatile. He's also shockingly good. Essentially all of Giroux's teammates do better by Corsi For% and goal differential when they play with him at even-strength, and he's surely one of the six most offensively talented Canadian born players in the NHL.

Martin St. Louis

Hockey Canada has often been observed to prize two-way play over pure offensive talent, and that may be what caused Martin St. Louis to be left off of the 2014 Canadian Olympic team.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season there are precisely zero human persons in the world who have recorded more points in the National Hockey League than Martin St. Louis has (271 points in 249 games). The 38-year-old forward doesn't appear to have lost a step of late either. His thighs make him something of a human bumper car anyway, and he's manged 98 points in his past 90 games since the start of 2012-13.

St. Louis drives play, he's proven that he doesn't rely on a healthy Steven Stamkos to produce offense, and he draws a whole whack of penalties (which suggests he's still rather hard to keep up with). 

If Canada finds themselves down a goal in an elimination game, they may regret leaving the likes of Giroux and St. Louis at home.

Brent Seabrook

Brent Seabrook is among the most reliable, physical top-pairing defensemen in the Western Conference. Seabrook is second only to Duncan Keith in ice-time per game this season on the Blackhawks, and has caddied the star puck-mover for years as Chicago has racked up wins and Stanley Cup championship banners.

Seabrook won a gold medal with the Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver in 2010 - although he didn't see much ice - but he'll fall victim to the Hockey Canada brain trust's dogmatic insistence on bringing an equal number of right-handed and left-handed defenseman. No NHL team in their right mind, however, would exchange Seabrook for Marc-Edouard Vlasic or Dan Hamhuis.

Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton is the NHL's premiere play-maker. Since 2010-11 only Henrik Sedin has racked up more assists and more assists per game, and lo and behold: Thornton is once again leading the league in assists and keying the league's most dangerous power-play. 

With Thornton on the ice the Sharks dominate play, and the big Sharks center has galvanized a number of mediocre top-six forwards into 30, 40 and 50 goal scorers in his career. He's great: plain and simple.

Thornton, however, found himself the odd man out on the 2014 Canadian Olympic team for two main reasons: center depth, and lack of foot speed. 

With the likes of Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Getzlaf ahead of him, it's not as if Thornton is a massive snub. He's also a type of player who had to be in that top-five center group to make the team, since he's not really a guy who can bump over to the wing like his teammate Patrick Marleau can. Team Canada just has that much talent down the middle of their roster.

Finally, the foot-speed thing matters especially with the tournament being played on the wider international ice sheet. Team Canada's head coach Mike Babcock didn't hesitate in an interview with TSN's James Duthie on Tuesday when asked what was different about this team: "Pace" he answered. "And an understanding of how quick you have to play." 

Taylor Hall

Speaking of pace: Taylor Hall has young legs and speed to burn. 

The Edmonton Oilers winger was misused as a fourth liner at the World Championships last May, and his team's continued presence at the absolute bottom of the NHL table surely played into his being snubbed by Hockey Canada.

But Hall can only do so much, and he's done everything the Oilers could reasonably ask of a superstar left winger over the past two seasons. In fact, since the start of the 2012-13 season only three Canadian players have produced more points per game than Taylor Hall has: Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos. That's... not terrible company.

Luckily for Hall he's only 22 so he'll have other chances to make a Canadian Olympic team in the future. Also as an Edmonton Oilers forward he'll have many opportunities to impress Team Canada brass at future World Championship tournaments.

Jan 7, 11:28 AM

Hockey Canada announces 2014 men's Olympic team

Jan 7, 11:28 AM

On Tuesday afternoon in Mississauga during an announcement ceremony that can only be described as interminable, Hockey Canada announced their men's ice hockey team roster for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Here's the complete 25-man roster:

Goaltenders: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Toews, John Tavares

Notable snubs include Martin St. Louis, Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle, Claude Giroux and Joe Thornton.