The Canadian team will look to one of the country’s most decorated players for leadership at the 2013 IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championship.
Eric Staal was named Canada’s captain Thursday. The 28-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ont., is one of only eight Canadian hockey players to win a world championship, Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup during his career.
Staal was a forward on the last Canadian team to win a world title in 2007. The Carolina Hurricanes captain is the lone player on Canada’s roster for the 2013 world championship who won Olympic gold in 2010. He won a Stanley Cup in 2006.
“It’s an honour, obviously, to play for your country and play with some of the great players we’ve got here,” Staal said Thursday.
“It also means I’m getting older and I’ve been around a little while. We’ve got some young faces in there and guys that are eager to get started. I’m glad I’m going to get an opportunity to play alongside these guys and have a chance to play in a good tournament and try and win a medal.”
Canada opens the tournament Saturday against Denmark followed by Switzerland on Sunday at the Globe Arena.
Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd and Dallas Stars defender Stephane Robidas were chosen assistant captains.
Ladd won Stanley Cups with Carolina (2006) and Chicago (2010). Robidas is the oldest player on the team at 36 and has played in two previous world championships for Canada in 2006 and 2001.
“Eric, coming off a gold-medal win in the Olympics, I think he knows what it takes to win,” Canadian head coach Lindy Ruff said.
“If you look at the other two guys, both players have been involved, in one way or the other, in big games throughout their careers whether it’s for Canada or for their individual teams. All those players are players that the younger guys look up to and respect.”
Staal’s younger brother and Hurricanes teammate Jordan is also on Canada’s world championship team in Stockholm.
Eric has been Carolina’s captain since 2010. He led the Hurricanes in scoring this lockout-shortened season with 18 goals and 35 assists in 48 games.
He had a goal and five assists for Canada at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
The other Canadians to win what is considered hockey’s three biggest prizes and enter the IIHF’s “Triple Gold Club” are Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Pronger, Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron.