With World Cup of Hockey training camps set to open next week in North America and Europe, let’s catch up on what’s been happening over the course of the summer with each of the eight competing teams.
Today: Team Canada
Training camp site: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Sept. 5-12.
• Sidney Crosby named Team Canada’s Captain for World Cup
• Team Canada adds Sharks’ Couture to World Cup roster
• Team Canada adds Bouwmeester to World Cup roster
• Price ‘100 per cent’ ready to go for World Cup of Hockey
Team captain: Sidney Crosby.
Assistant captains: Jonathan Toews, Shea Weber.
• Head coach: Mike Babcock.
• GM: Doug Armstrong.
• Other Staff: Mark Bergevin, Rob Blake, Ken Holland, Bob Murray (management group). Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, Bill Peters, Misha Donskov, Andrew Brewer (assistant coaches).
• Carey Price. It has been more than nine months since the presumed No. 1 goalie last played a game after knee issues derailed his 2015-16 campaign. He is said to be in good health now, but will be monitored closely during training camp to see if there are any signs of rust in his game.
• Claude Giroux. His participation was up in the air because of off-season surgery for hip and abdominal injuries. However, the Flyers captain recently received clearance to participate in the World Cup after a summer of recovery.
• Tyler Seguin. A gruesome cut to the Achilles tendon above his right foot kept the forward from participating in Dallas’ playoff run – save for one game in the opening round. Seguin says he’s still feeling some affects from the injury, but is confident that it has healed enough to play.
• Steven Stamkos. He made a dramatic return for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in May after missing eight weeks following surgery on a blood clot near his right collarbone. The Lightning captain has had another three months since to ensure he’s not at risk of bleeding to death should he be cut while playing.
Key storylines entering camp:
1. What to do with Weber?
The stingy Sochi Olympic team was driven by a top defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Shea Weber – one that likely would have been reprised at the World Cup if not for an injury to Keith.
Given coach Mike Babcock’s preference to pair left- and right-hand shots, plus those that play on the same team, he’ll have to break up a built-in tandem to find Weber (R) a new partner: Either L.A.’s Jake Muzzin (L) and Drew Doughty (R) or San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic (L) and Brent Burns (R) or St. Louis’ Jay Bouwmeester (L) and Alex Pietrangelo (R).
2. Who plays with Sid?
Finding the optimal wingers to complement No. 87 rarely seems to be an easy task. Sidney Crosby finished the Sochi Games playing between Penguins teammate Chris Kunitz and Patrice Bergeron, but will find himself with a different unit on a World Cup team that doesn’t include Kunitz.
One intriguing possibility is Crosby with Steven Stamkos and John Tavares on an all-No. 1 overall pick line.
3. Winging It
The only natural winger on this roster is Brad Marchand, which means that several centres will be asked to play out of position during the tournament. This isn’t a new problem for Team Canada – the country features an embarrassment of riches down the middle – but it could result in some serious line juggling while everyone gets comfortable.
4. Patience with Price
The one thing this tournament doesn’t offer is margin for error. Each team gets three exhibition games followed by three preliminary round games which will determine who advances directly to the semifinals. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how much rope Carey Price is given if he struggles in his first competitive action since last November.
Braden Holtby is waiting in the wings.
Exhibition/Preliminary round schedule:
**Sept. 9: Team Canada vs. Team USA, Nationwide Arena, 7 p.m.
**Sept. 10: Team Canada vs. Team USA, Canadian Tire Centre, 7 p.m.
**Sept. 14: Team Canada vs. Team Russia, Consol Energy Center, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18: Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m.
Sept. 20: Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.
Sept. 21: Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m.