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Penguins notebook: Crosby eyes Canada's captaincy

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby plays against the Blue Jackets on Dec. 9, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

EDMONTON, Alberta — Before they face each other at Soldier Field on March 1, Sidney Crosby and Chicago Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews will be in another contest.

They are considered the favorites to be captain of Team Canada for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Crosby, 26, probably is the favorite for the honor. He leads the NHL in scoring, is widely recognized as hockey's finest player and scored the goal that gave Canada a gold medal four years ago. He has been the Penguins' captain since 2006, when he earned the “C” at age 19, which made him the youngest captain in NHL history at the time.

Toews boasts two Stanley Cup championships — one more than Crosby — and is regarded as one of the sport's finest leaders.

It is unknown when Team Canada will designate a captain.

Crosby made it clear he would love to wear the “C” on his chest, should general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Mike Babcock choose him.

“It would be a great honor,” Crosby said. “Looking back at 2010, seeing guys like (Chris) Pronger and (Scott) Neidermeyer and (Jarome) Iginla and the way they led our team. It would be a great honor.”

Crosby doesn't sound rattled by the reality that North American teams often struggle on the bigger European ice surfaces. He hasn't played in Europe since the 2006 World Championship but said Canada's team speed should be helpful.

Crosby, whose only Olympic experience came in Vancouver, also suggested that being away from the pressures of playing at home might be beneficial to the Canadian squad.

Sounding like a captain, Crosby said his teammates will embrace any pressure that comes their way.

“You feel it when you're in your home country,” he said. “You see it everywhere you go. You're a little more isolated over there (in Russia). You're just with your team for the most part. All those opportunities to feel pressure, you probably don't have them up close. But there is still pressure that comes with playing for Team Canada. That's what makes it so special.”

Helpful advice

Crosby had a conversation with goalie Jeff Zatkoff moments before Tuesday's shootout. Crosby asked Zatkoff, who wasn't playing, if Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack appeared vulnerable to anything in particular.

Zatkoff suggested a shot between Lack's legs would work. Crosby went with the advice and beat Lack cleanly with a wrist shot between the goaltender's legs.

TSN cameras caught Crosby smiling at Zatkoff as he skated back to the bench after the shootout tally in the Penguins' 5-4 win.

Day off

The Penguins were given the day off Wednesday in Edmonton. They will practice Thursday before playing the Oilers on Friday night.

The Penguins finish their swing through Western Canada on Saturday at Calgary. After that game, the Penguins play once in eight days, Jan. 15 against the visiting Washington Capitals.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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