TORONTO -- Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong appeared to be stunned by the question.
When Team Canada announced its coaching staff for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Nov. 5, Armstrong was asked if Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins was a lock to be on the team.
"There is no discussion about Sidney," Armstrong said. "He will be part of the first group of 16 players."
At the time, Crosby was not playing well; he did not have a point in Pittsburgh's first five games, scored one goal in his first 11 and was held pointless in 17 of the Penguins' first 30 games.
But Crosby's game has picked up and he ranks eighth in NHL scoring with 25 goals and 60 points in 61 games.
"I never really had any question that he was going to find his game," Armstrong said. "Bob Gainey, who I learned a lot from, said when a guy plays 15-16 years in the NHL, you're going to have bad stretches. Don't let the one small portion override the rest of it. Sidney didn't have the start he wanted; the Penguins didn't really have the start they wanted. Sidney is playing better now and lo and behold, the Penguins are playing better now.
Video: Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong
"Sidney is a great player. To me, there was never any question about him being on this team. Not only is he going to be on this team, he's going to asked to be a huge part of this team."
Crosby, who scored the overtime goal in the gold medal game in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, has plenty of international experience; he was captain of Canada's gold medal-winning teams at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. Crosby had four goals and seven points in 2010 and one goal and three points in 2014.
Hockey Canada president and CEO Tom Renney admitted there was some concern by Canada's management team when Crosby's season got off to a slow start.
"What is great is how he has come through this," Renney said. "If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about Sidney Crosby, nothing will. To tell you we had no problems with his start and how his team was playing at the start of the year, we would not be telling the truth. It just goes to show we didn't need to be."
Renney said Crosby is the type of player who has a positive impact on his teammates.
"He brings a huge competitiveness, no question," Renney said. "I think what he does is really centers in on what is important playing the game collectively - units of five, playing all three zones, playing fast - all those things that, as a coach, you want your players to allude to constantly. He's an elite thinker and he drags people into the battle because of it."