Sidney Crosby talks favourite Team Canada addition

Watch as Sidney Crosby parades the Stanley Cup through his hometown Cole Harbour.

Sidney Crosby has to think about it but only for two seconds.

The only player to captain all three national teams on his Triple Gold Club membership card, Crosby takes just a moment when we ask him at Gatorade’s GCamp to name the most exciting newcomer to Canada’s squad for September’s World Cup of Hockey.

“That’s tough,” he says. Then a smile creeps across his two-time Stanley-Cup-sipping, two-time Olympic-gold-biting mouth. “An interesting one for me is Brad Marchand.”

Rat Fink. Honey Badger. The Little Ball of Hate. If Marchand isn’t getting under your skin, he’s clawing on top of it, lingering like tattoo regret.

Crosby, 29, and Marchand, 28, have had their share of NHL run-ins, both literally and rhetorically.

“You’re so used to playing against him, you know the way he plays,” Crosby chuckles.

“Having him on your team is going to be so much more enjoyable than having to play against him. Having a local guy, someone who’s from the same area, I think that’s pretty special to be competing for Team Canada with someone like that.”

A bond is forming between the two Nova Scotian stars, who frequently skate together in the summer alongside other local guys like Nathan MacKinnon, though Crosby admits that Marchand has a wicked knack for ticking him off during Bruins-Penguins tilts.

Marchand won back-to-back gold medals representing Canada at the 2007 and 2008 world juniors, and his game has steadily improved as a pro. Failing to make the cut for the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, Marchand won a late-addition spot on the 2016 World Cup roster with his career-best 37-goal, 60-point campaign in 2015-16. Helping Canada defend world championship gold in May (seven points in 10 games) didn’t hurt, either.

“You look at the season he had—he’s proven he can be a lot more than just an agitator. He’s a really good player, but part of his game is playing a tough brand [of hockey]. Playing right on that edge,” Crosby says. “He’s had a tremendous career so far. I think that’ll be someone fun to join up with.”

In Sochi, Crosby centred a line with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on the right side and familiar Penguins trigger man Chris Kunitz on the left. With Kunitz not getting a World Cup invite and left wing Marchand skating alongside Sid in Halifax, perhaps Crosby will end up being flanked by two Bruins this September.

Independent sports reporter John Moore, a longtime caller of Halifax Mooseheads games, has been watching the duo’s chemistry with each other this summer and posted footage on YouTube:

“Sometimes players seem to fit together,” Moore told CBC. “Certainly on that given day, they could do no wrong. They were dominating.”

Crosby says Team Canada has held a couple of conference calls to outline travel and expectations. Line combinations have yet to be discussed as training camps for the World Cup of Hockey open Sept. 4.

With the Penguins going the distance, Crosby’s off-season didn’t begin until June 13. Yet with the looming tournament, he could not afford to take many days away from the rink.

“You try to make sure when that time comes along that you’ve skated a lot, that you’re at your best. Usually in early September, you’re thinking, ‘OK, I can use training camp to get ready a bit too,’ but that’s not the case here. You have to make sure your game’s at a high level when you get there,” Crosby explains.

“You’re thrown into some important games in September. A lot of guys — myself included — haven’t been in that situation. You have half a season to get ready for the Olympics. This is a new concept that we have to make sure we’re ready for, so communication is important.”

Canada has won the last two Olympics and the last two world championships. Crosby captained three of those outfits and was too busy building his Conn Smythe case during the other. Naturally, Canada is the overwhelming betting favourite to claim the World Cup. So, who does Crosby think has the best shot at the throne?

“To be honest, if you look at every roster and see all the names, it’s amazing. All the way through each team, you see talented players that are big parts of their own team. A lot of those guys have experience,” he says.

“You look at the younger team, the under-24 team, those are probably some of the fastest players in the NHL—all on one team. They’re going to be playing with something to prove. Every team has its own dynamic and a lot of talent. With it being only one game [elimination, after the group stage], anything can happen.”

Even a Marchand-Crosby lovefest.

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