Editorials

2016 World Cup Of Hockey: Toews’ Time To Be Captain

By Colin Likas
Feb 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts to being called for a tripping penalty against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) reacts to being called for a tripping penalty against Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) during the third period at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 2-1 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

Jonathan Toews Should Be Team Canada’s Captain

On Friday, the finalized rosters for all eight teams competing in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey were released to the public. While there were some surprises and snubs, we’ll be seeing most of the world’s best players at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Outside of the actual lineups we’ll see on the ice, there’s really only one more decision that needs to be made on each team: Who will be the captain?

This isn’t going to be an easy decision on any of the teams, all of which sport multiple NHL players. Nineteen guys who currently captain an NHL team are on one of the eight World Cup rosters, and eight of them are on the Team Canada unit: Dallas’ Jamie Benn, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf, Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, the New York Islanders’ John Tavares, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Nashville’s Shea Weber.

Of course, the Team Canada captaincy conversation will ultimately come down to two guys in Toews and Crosby. In the last two international tournaments, Crosby was named the captain. During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2015 IIHF World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, Crosby donned the “C” on his chest for Canada. Toews was on Team Canada’s roster for the Winter Olympics, but not for the World Championships (due to the Stanley Cup Playoffs).

More from Editorials

It’s created an interesting dynamic between the two in international competition. Before the 2014 Winter Olympics, Crosby actually asked Toews if he was OK with Crosby being the captain. Toews said he was, accepting an alternate captain honor.

In the grand scheme of things, being named the captain of an international hockey team shows how much players, coaches and others around the game respect that player. They respect the way he plays and the way he conducts himself on the ice. This is something that has been said a lot about Toews by his opponents and peers, but it hasn’t manifested in an international captaincy slot.

The last time Toews captained a team in any sort of international contest was in 2005, with Canada West at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge. The team went on to win the event.

This is going to be a tough argument to make with Crosby and the Penguins currently in the Stanley Cup Final, but it’s about time for Toews to captain Team Canada on one of the big international stages. Toews has already compiled one of professional hockey’s most impressive resumes, having led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups after become the third-youngest team captain in NHL history.

On top of that, Toews is the second-youngest team captain to win the Cup, and he’s the youngest captain to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, as well as the second-youngest athlete to win that MVP honor. He’s a multi-time NHL All-Star, a multi-time international gold medalist, a Selke Trophy winner, a Mark Messier Leadership award winner … the list goes on and on.

That’s not to take away from Crosby, who has achieved many things across all levels of hockey in his own right. Sure, he currently has just one Cup to Toews’ three, but if that’s what the Team Canada captaincy was all about, Toews would have been selected captain for the 2014 Winter Olympics (it was Toews’ two Cups to Crosby’s one at that point).

It’s more about these guys being known as two of the NHL’s best leaders, but also about them being two of the league’s most recognizable faces. You want to give your team captaincy to a guy with whom fans are abundantly familiar, and Team Canada can’t go wrong with Toews or Crosby in that regard.

So why not let Toews have this one? It’s not like it’d be a pity captaincy. Toews’ credentials are at least on par, and arguably better, than Crosby’s across all levels of hockey. Both players, age-wise, are nearing or in their prime playing years. This is the perfect opportunity for Toews to get at least one big international captaincy under his belt. He’s certainly earned it.

facebooktwitterreddit