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Crosby, Tavares know what Babcock brings to Canada

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Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and New York Islanders center John Tavares could have big roles for Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

They'll know what it takes to play for coach Mike Babcock, who was named Team Canada coach Thursday.

Crosby and Tavares were teammates under Babcock with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Canada won all six of its games and outscored its opponents 17-3. It won the gold medal with a 3-0 shutout of Sweden.

Crosby was captain of the 2014 team and played for Babcock at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when Canada also won gold.

Each player said Babcock's ability to communicate his plans was key to winning.

"Obviously guys have to understand their roles pretty quickly," Crosby said. "So whether it's the guys he puts together or what he communicates along with the whole coaching staff, I think it's been pretty clear. You know what your role is going to be and how you are going to help the team, and I think that is really important."

Tavares, the focal point of the Islanders, played more of a depth role in Sochi before he was injured. He said Babcock, coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, made it easy for him to adapt.

"Mike was great to me," Tavares said. "The conversations we had, whether it was about my game and making mistakes or making good plays and playing the way they needed me to play, was all very good, and the message was able to give me a lot of confidence. It certainly was a situation that I hadn't played in very much, playing a different role. Obviously still playing with so many great players, but your minutes are different and things like that. His ability to manage them and communicate to you just about your game and contributing your role to the team really helped me find what I needed to do to help that team."

Tavares said conveying that message to star players involved walking a fine line, but Babcock was able to accomplish it.

"I think from him and his staff, his ability to relay the message but not beat it to death, so to speak," Tavares said. "His ability to give you a message quick and on point, and obviously to have all those players and all that talent being able to buy in, listen and accept that, and have everyone get on the same page that quickly was impressive from anybody's standpoint."

Crosby said Babcock's communication skills filtered to the coaching staff. At the 2014 Olympics, his assistants were Claude Julien (Boston Bruins), Lindy Ruff (Dallas Stars) and Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis Blues), each a longtime NHL coach. At the World Cup, Babcock's staff will be Julien, Joel Quenneville (Chicago Blackhawks), Bill Peters (Carolina Hurricanes) and Barry Trotz (Washington Capitals).

"You see the way the staff is organized and what they bring, what each guy has to do is very direct and understood, so nobody is asking questions a week in, 'What should I do?'" Crosby said. "There's no uncertainty; it's pretty clear. That's really a big help. Players just want to do the best they can and whatever they can to help the team."

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