Canada's best captain would be a wise but unpopular choice
CALGARY -- The
The 80-plus percent support in the poll for the captain of the local NHL six was gratifying, no doubt, but unless Iginla gets to play in the world championships or plans on captaining the Politburo All-Stars in 2014 in Sochi, he is a long shot to wear a C. The poll numbers did not skew as favorably for
In 2014, say.
Despite the groundswell of support for Crosby (outside Calgary) to take his anointed place in the home Games after his glorious NHL spring -- "Nice leadership," Detroit Red Wings (and Canadian Olympic coach)
But if you listened closely enough to a new conference, it was obvious whom Team Canada executive director
Now, nobody actually came out and said the defenseman, who has won a Memorial Cup, an Olympics, world championships and Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, is going to be the official leader of this team. There are 46 players at Canada's Olympic camp and theoretically no jobs are safe (although that Red Team fourth line of
If you care to connect the dots, you will see that Niedermayer played for Canada in the 2002 Olympics and was a big part of its first Olympic gold medal in 50 years, but when he did not take part in the 2006 because of an injury --
"I think Scott Niedermayer would be a pretty good [candidate]," said Babcock in response to a question from a TV fellow who had handicapped it as a two-horse race for the captaincy, Crosby and Iginla. "What I see [in this group] is a whole ton of young players and guys who have been through this before. There's going to be an environment that expects success. I think that guys who have been there before have a chance to calm [things] down. Everybody on this team is a leader in their own way. Saying that, the guys who have been through that before will be the stabilizing force, much like it was in the past when we had success."
Niedermayer, who has played 29 games for Canada at the senior level, will become the only Canadian to play in all four Olympics for which NHL players have been eligible. Brodeur will make his fourth Olympic team, but he never made the ice in 1998 while serving as
(Incidentally, Vancouver Canucks goalie/captain
Yzerman was a member of the 1998 team that lost the thrilling semifinal shootout to
Yzerman, who also played in 2002, did not sound like he was enamored of that once novel idea, the Young Man and the C. "I wouldn't expect him to put him out to the forefront," Yzerman said after being effusive in his praise of Crosby, who opened centering a line with Iginla and
"To be a captain of this team would be a huge responsibility," Crosby said, "but at the same time, I think if you're going to be put in that situation you couldn't be surrounded by a better group of leaders. There's a lot of responsibility that comes with that, but at the same time you don't have to look too far for leadership when you look in that dressing room."
Crosby was being diplomatic. On the Vancouver ice, this might wind up being his team. The dressing room will belong to players who have been there before, especially Niedermayer. If Team Canada wins the gold medal, then it will have been the right decision. If not ...