In 2010, Sid The Kid reached the pinnacle of his glory, scoring the Gold winning goal that broke an overtime deadlock against the USA, in Vancouver.
Less than a year prior, it was Sid who captained the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first Stanley Cup victory since 1992. Crosby was killing it, however, since then, it’s been nothing but playoff disappointments and injury woes for the poster boy of Canadian hockey.
On the other hand, the 2010 Winter Olympics sparked a coming-out party for Jonathan Toews. The Hawks captain led Team Canada in scoring throughout the tournament, earning him an award for Best Forward. Only a few months later, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with Jonathan Toews captaining the ship. Toews was awarded the Conn Smythe as Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP. Best Forward at the Olympics and playoffs MVP in 5 months is as good as it gets in individual hockey accomplishment, for a captain.
As you know, Toews won his second Stanley Cup last June, giving him two in four years. The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks will never score at Crosby’s pace, but scoring isn’t the main criteria determining captaincy.
Crosby is a proven leader, don’t get me wrong. He has captained an NHL franchise to a Stanley Cup, and he’s regularly shined at important times throughout his career, leading on the ice with big goals and game changing plays. Sidney Crosby is definitely Team Canada’s best player.
Together, Crosby and Toews have worn the “C” on 3 of the last 5 Cup winning NHL rosters. Gone are the days when Canadians dominated as championship captains – before Toews and Crosby, all three previous Cup winning captains from Canada are currently retired (Dave Andreychuk 04′, Rod Brind’amour 06′, Scott Niedermayer 07′).
Captain of Team Canada is an interesting station. The team is together for less than two weeks, not to mention, it’s filled with established leaders and superstars. Therefore, whoever leads Canada onto the ice in Sochi, won’t need to be the only hero or best player, rather, he will symbolize the team’s identity more than anything.
With Crosby as captain, Canada declare themselves the most talented hockey country in the world. If Jonathan Toews wears the “C”, the message sent is one of Stanley Cup dominance and experience at winning team trophies. Both images interchange amongst the two candidates, and both are intimidating to opponents.
At the end of the day, Canada is a team full of leaders. Camp invitees accounted for 11 current NHL captains – Dion Phaneuf, Shea Weber, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Andrew Ladd, Eric Staal, John Tavares, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews, and one of, Steven Stamkos or Martin St. Louis.
The Camp also featured two former NHL captains – Rick Nash and Mike Richards. Richards is a well known team leader, with a recent Cup ring, and a finals experience as Flyers’ Captain back in 2010.
Team Canada will likely announce Team Captain when the official roster is finalized on December 31, 2013.