WASHINGTON – Mike Babcock will coach a very familiar Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey.
Twelve of the 16 players selected to Canada’s initial roster won gold under Babcock at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, who has been out of NHL action with an injury. Goalies Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks were also selected to the team.
“Our management group wanted to balance respecting the contributors to past Team Canada successes, as well as respecting the players that have emerged as top players in the NHL,” general manager Doug Armstrong said.
P.K. Subban, the electric risk-and-reward Canadiens defenceman who played sparingly in Sochi, was left off the first 16 as Canada went with Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks.
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Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks lead the forward group, which includes only two newcomers: Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars.
“They only let us name 16, so it’s pretty easy,” Babcock said. “You take the 16 you think you should name and you name them. The hardest part is the part to come. Not the first 16. My wife could’ve done that. It’s the rest.”
Other teams had more difficult decisions. Team North America, made up of American and Canadian players age 23 and under, has the past three No. 1 picks in Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and Nathan MacKinnon but didn’t have room for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers or Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens.
Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli, who also holds that job in Edmonton, said he talked to Nugent-Hopkins about not being on the initial roster and hopes the young centre gets healthy and back into form.
Canada, North America and several other teams selected three goalies among their first 16 as a way to create roster flexibility. Every team must fill out its 23-man roster by June 1 for the best-on-best tournament that takes place Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.
© 2016 The Canadian Press