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The C is for Connor

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid was named captain for Team North America at World Cup of Hockey 2016 on Thursday. His captaincy is the latest proof of his leadership qualities, which were lauded by his Oilers teammates at the end of 2015-16.



 

"I'm very humbled and honoured to wear (the letter)," said McDavid, who spoke to Bob Stauffer on Oilers Now Friday.

"I think it's a very special thing to be able to wear a 'C' on a team, and especially on a team like this where we have 22 amazing people and great leaders in their own right."

As captain of Team North America, McDavid is charged with helping lead a group comprised of the best American and Canadian players 23 and under in the game. McDavid himself is a prime example of the pure talent North America has bursting from its roster.

The soon-to-be second-year player posted 48 points (16-32-48) in just 45 games as a rookie. In the North America locker room, McDavid is in excellent company.

Photo by NHL.com

Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins , Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon, Buffalo's Jack Eichel, Tampa Bay's Jonathan Drouin and 2016 first-overall pick Auston Matthews are just a few of the talented players joining the Oilers centre in Toronto for the international tournament. Joining McDavid as his alternate captains are Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier and Florida Panthers defenceman Aaron Ekblad.

"I'm definitely honoured to wear it but there are 22 other guys in that dressing room who could wear it," said McDavid.

Team North America will play its first game of the tournament on September 18, against Team Finland. They opened their pre-tournament schedule with a 4-0 win over Team Europe on Thursday.

Although not the favourites, Team North America are certainly one of the more exciting teams to watch in the tournament. They're also embracing the underdog role, making them a dangerous opponent for any team.

"You look at the whole tournament up and down the list and anyone can beat anyone," McDavid said. "I think especially in our pool, those teams are unbelievable teams and hockey powers in this world. It's going to be tough but ultimately we feel confident and we're looking forward to getting it started."

McDavid, as captain, is tasked with helping pull together a young locker room full of NHL and former World Junior rivals. But if you ask him, that's no real challenge at all.

"I think people are making too big a deal of that," McDavid said. "Everyone knows what we're here for and we're trying to bring everyone together. Whatever beef or whatever you may have coming into the tournament, I don't think anyone has thought about it or acted on it or anything like that. I think everyone is coming together nicely and I think the team is really starting to gel."

McDavid has now worn the "C" for two teams, and the "A" for numerous others. He was an alternate in AAA, and at World Juniors in 2015. He was the Erie Otters captain his last season in the OHL, and now holds that role on the adult-international stage.

With glowing remarks from teammates and coaches following the end of the 2015-16 campaign on McDavid's leadership ability and his relationship with the players around the locker room, it leads many to speculate the young forward has a very good shot at being named the captain in Edmonton.

It's a question McDavid himself has been asked many times. How would he react to being give the "C" with the Oilers?

"So honoured," he said on Oilers Now. "I know it sounds redundant, me saying that, but any time you get named the captain of anything, and especially a hockey team, I think it's such an honour. You take it with such pride and you do whatever you can with it. Ultimately, not much changes. We are lucky in Edmonton to have some of the guys we do and we've brought in a couple older guys and some new faces that are great leaders. We even have guys that are returning that are unbelievable leaders as well. There's many guys who can do the job and whoever they pick to wear that letter they'll have a good supporting cast."

The Oilers organization says they intend to name their next captain in training camp. For now - and for Team North America - the "C" in Connor stands for "captain."

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