Kunitz joins Crosby on Canadian Olympic hockey team
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — For once, Sidney Crosby wasn't sure how to read the play.
He received a phone call from Team Canada officials to learn the obvious, that he had made the Olympic roster. Crosby also was told that his linemate, left wing Chris Kunitz, had made the team.
“I wasn't sure if I should text him or if he already knew,” Crosby said. “He was across the hallway from me.”
It was fitting, then, that Kunitz already knew, since so many seem to believe Crosby always delivers tap-ins for Kunitz.
Kunitz, as benign a personality that one could locate in the Penguins' locker room, has become a polarizing figure in his native country because many Canadians are convinced that his spectacular statistics in recent season are a direct result of playing on the same line as Crosby.
His teammates, however, are quick to note that Kunitz is an outstanding player. This became a theme with Kunitz, as general manager Steve Yzerman made it clear that Kunitz is on Team Canada on his own accord.
“Yes,” Yzerman said, “he plays with Sidney Crosby. He's been a great contributor to that line and his team. The question a lot of people have asked is, has Chris Kunitz been helped by Sidney Crosby? They help each other. On his own, does he belong on this team? Our answer is yes.”
The inclusion on one of the most star-studded rosters in all of sports left Kunitz with an emotional look in his eye Tuesday morning.
At 34, Kunitz never has played in the Olympics and has limited international experience.
He played college hockey at Ferris State and wasn't drafted by an NHL team, instead signing as an undrafted free agent with Anaheim in 2003.
Kunitz essentially worked his way into the NHL, and eventually worked his way onto Crosby's left wing.
He doesn't figure to be removed from it anytime soon, and it seems likely that Crosby will play with Kunitz in Sochi.
Team Canada officials didn't ask Crosby if he would prefer to play with Kunitz, even though it is widely known the two possess a strong chemistry.
“I'm really happy,” Crosby said. “He's worked hard. He's done a lot of things to earn the right to play on the team. When you're able to share those experiences with teammates, especially at this level, it's important. Especially as a teammate and a linemate, I'm happy for him.”
Kunitz looked relieved Tuesday. When he learned of the good news, he immediately called home.
“I called my wife and kids to tell them first,” he said. “It was a special moment.”
Kunitz had remained quiet about the Olympics, smiling when the topic was addressed.
While making it clear that he strongly desired an opportunity to play for Team Canada, Kunitz dodged the debate around his participation.
He did acknowledge that the topic has been on his mind for some time.
“I definitely spent many hours thinking about it and talking with my wife about it,” Kunitz said.
Now, Kunitz can stop focusing on whether he belongs on the Olympic team.
He is officially a part of Team Canada, and can focus on something he's never done before: Packing for Sochi.
“It's an incredible honor for myself and my family,” Kunitz said.
Kunitz mentioned Crosby and the chemistry they share many times. He credited Crosby with displaying a work ethic that has “made me better.”
It's safe to say Kunitz made his own way onto Team Canada. And he was a step ahead of the guy who always sees the play before it happens.
“He deserves this,” Crosby said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Crosby most excited by Kessel’s footspeed
- Timing drives former KHL star Plotnikov
- Crosby’s off-ice life hardly reflects that of a superstar
- Sestito ready to fight for job on Penguins
- Penguins’ Johnston: Kessel, Crosby likely to open season together
- Penguins defenseman Oleksy brings nasty streak, toughness
- Ex-Penguin Kennedy skates with former teammates, hopes to catch on with a team
- Pens GM: Sundqvist did not have surgery