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Johnson named captain of U.S. team for Worlds

by Tal Pinchevsky

With Team USA consisting mostly of players new to the World Championship stage, it's a veteran of international play who was chosen to lead the charge.

That was the spirit of USA Hockey's announcement on Thursday that Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson will serve as team captain at this year's IIHF World Championship.


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A veteran of four previous World Championship tournaments, two World Junior Championships, two U-18 tourneys, a U-17 competition, and one Olympic games, the 25-year-old Johnson also served as captain of the 2010 American team that failed to reach the quarterfinals before winning the relegation round.

Johnson is the only returnee this year from the 2011 USA roster and will lead a blue-line corps with no previous World Championship experience. His previous international experience, which began with his work in the U.S. National Team Development Program, should greatly benefit a roster on which Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders is the only other player who has previously competed in more than one World Championship tourney. Jim Slater, one of the few players on the U.S. roster with previous experience at the Worlds, last competed at the tournament in 2006.

With Johnson wearing the "C," Team USA kicks off the tournament Friday in Helsinki against France.

While the Americans are expected to qualify for the quarterfinals this year and potentially compete for a medal, another national team that could be on the tournament fringe also named their captain.

In anticipation of their tournament opener against Italy, the Germans named Florida Panthers center Marcel Goc as their captain. The only NHL player on the German roster, Goc has previously represented Germany countless times in international play, including five times at the World Championship, four times at the World Junior Championship, twice at the Olympics, and once at the World Cup. Goc's younger brother, Nicolai, will also be on the team.

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