Penguins star Crosby to captain Canada at Sochi Winter Olympics
By Rob Rossi
Published: Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, 11:56 a.m.
Sidney Crosby can keep his “C.”
The Penguins captain will fill that role next month for the Canadian squad at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Crosby learned of Canada coach Mike Babcock's decision Friday, but Hockey Canada announced it Sunday.
“It's a huge honor,” Crosby said after a Penguins practice at Consol Energy Center. “But I don't think it changes a whole lot. There are a lot of real good leaders there, a lot of good experience.”
Crosby is one of six current NHL captains slated to play for Canada.
He is the NHL's third-longest-tenured captain, holding that position with the Penguins since 2007. The Penguins' previous captain, Mario Lemieux, captained Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Lemieux might have led Canada to gold 12 years ago, but Crosby literally won it at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
His quick-whip goal against Ryan Miller provided Canada a 3-2 overtime win over the United States in the gold-medal match — and it changed everything for Crosby in his home and native land, 2010 Olympic teammate Marc-Andre Fleury said.
“Right away it was, like, ‘Yeah, we won,' ” Fleury said. “But even late that night when all of Canada was celebrating, going crazy, you realized what a huge effect it had on everyone in our country.
“To me, by then, he was long done being ‘Sid the Kid.' But that goal made him into a legend.”
This could be a legendary calendar year for Crosby, too.
No NHL player has won a scoring title, MVP, the Stanley Cup and captained an Olympic championship team in one season, but Crosby could do all of that in a span of five months starting in February. He leads the NHL in scoring and has played in every game for the Penguins, who top the Eastern Conference despite more man-games missed than any club.
The Penguins have played only once in the past eight days, and return to action against Florida at Consol Energy Center on Monday night. Crosby said he is more focused on that game than any perceived duties that come captaining Canada.
“I've never been that (Canada's Olympic captain) before, so I don't really know what I'm supposed to do,” Crosby said, laughing. “We've got some time yet.”
In a couple of weeks, he plans to start calling some of the current Team Canada players who were part of the 2010 squad.
He also will try to tune out reports of Olympic-inspired violence around Russia. Violence in Russia has escalated in recent weeks since terrorists vowed publicly to disrupt the Games. Russian president Vladimir Putin said Friday that his government is doing “everything possible” to guarantee security at the Olympics.
“It's not something that everybody is totally worried about, but it's hard not to think about it when things are happening kind of close (to Sochi),” Crosby said.
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, a native of Magnitogorsk who spends his summers in Moscow, told the Tribune-Review he believes Olympic athletes and their families “will be safe” in Sochi, which is a resort town.
Crosby said he does not expect to be asked to carry the flag for Canada at the Olympics opening ceremonies Feb. 7, which would require him to miss a game for the Penguins.
Crosby is one of seven Penguins players selected to play for their respective countries at the Olympics. He will be joined by winger Chris Kunitz (Canada); defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik (United States); forward Jussi Jokinen and defenseman Olli Maatta (Finland); and Malkin (Russia).
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and assistant Tony Granato will helm those positions for Team USA, and general manager Ray Shero is the top assistant to Nasvhille's David Poile, who is running the Americans squad.
The NHL will break, including a roster freeze, from Feb. 7-23 for the Games.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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