Hockey Canada has announced the leadership group for the upcoming Olympic Games, with Eric Staal the obvious choice as captain of the club. He’ll be joined by David Desharnais and Maxim Noreau as alternates.
Staal, 37, has not only appeared in the Olympics previously–he went when the NHL was still participating. A member of the 2010 gold medal-winning squad in Vancouver, the veteran forward is already a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club, with Olympic gold, World Championship gold, and a Stanley Cup championship. This is the second time he’s served as captain for Team Canada, having also worn the “C” in 2013 at the Worlds.
With the scattered talent that’s on the team, Staal was always going to be the captain as he brings more experience than anyone else. He very well could skate with someone nearly two decades his junior, if Mason McTavish can work his way up the lineup. He’ll have another veteran forward to lean on either way though, as Desharnais gets an “A” after three excellent years playing in Switzerland. The 35-year-old had a strong NHL career of his own, racking up 282 points in 524 career games.
Noreau, a player that might be much less familiar to NHL fans given he played just six games with the Minnesota Wild more than a decade ago, is the other alternate after a long successful career in Switzerland. He’s also a returning member of the 2018 Olympic group, where he also wore an “A” en route to a bronze medal. The 34-year-old defenseman should likely play a role on the powerplay given his offensive skillset, though young Owen Power has the ability to play in all situations including with the man-advantage.
Meanwhile, Canada’s pre-tournament tune-up game in Switzerland before they travel to Beijing has been canceled due to COVID concerns for EV Zug, the scheduled opponent. For Staal and his team, the tournament will begin on February 10.