PARIS, France – On the eve of its opening game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship, Team Canada has announced that Claude Giroux (Hearst, Ont./Philadelphia, NHL) will captain the red-and-white as the team looks to defend its back-to-back gold medals.
Serving as alternate captains are Matt Duchene (Haliburton, Ont./Colorado, NHL) and Ryan O’Reilly (Varna, Ont./Buffalo, NHL) who were on the 2015 and 2016 gold medal-winning teams at worlds, as well as Marc-Édouard Vlasic (Montreal/San Jose, NHL) who captured the World Cup of Hockey in September alongside Giroux, Duchene, and O’Reilly.
“Our team is oozing with leadership, and a number of players could have worn a letter,” said head coach Jon Cooper (Prince George, B.C./Tampa Bay, NHL). “However, this group will be led by our captain Claude Giroux, who has helped put Team Canada on the podium at several international tournaments.”
Giroux has won gold for Canada at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship, 2015 IIHF World Championship, and 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The Northern Ontario native has served as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers for the last five seasons, following one season as an alternate captain for the NHL franchise.
In addition to his two IIHF World Championship gold-medals in 2015 and 2016, Duchene has won gold for Canada at the 2008 IIHF U18 World Championship, 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and 2016 World Cup of Hockey. A 2012 Spengler Cup champion, Duchene is an alternate captain for the Colorado Avalanche and served as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the 2016 worlds.
O’Reilly reprises his role as alternate captain for Team Canada at worlds, having worn the ‘A’ at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. A two-time gold-medallist at worlds (2015, 2016), O’Reilly also serves as an alternate captain for the Buffalo Sabres, and he most recently represented the red-and-white at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, winning the tournament.
Canada opens 2017 IIHF World Championship Friday
Canada opens the 2017 IIHF World Championship against the Czech Republic on Friday, May 5, with preliminary-round games scheduled through Tuesday, May 16. The bronze- and gold-medal games will take place on Sunday, May 21.
“This team has bonded quickly, so the guys are having a lot of fun together, now it’s time to turn it up a notch against the Czechs,” said Cooper following the team’s Thursday skate. “That’s a tough one right out of the gate for us. We’ve had three of four practices and a game, not a lot of time to prepare, but we’re looking forward to playing for real. The guys are excited.”
When asked about the key to playing the Czechs following Thursday’s skate, Giroux said: “They’re a good team; they have a lot of skills, they have a big team. For us, it’s about focusing on our game, our systems, and how we want to play as a team.”