Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane will be an alternate captain for the United States at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, Team USA coach John Tortorella announced Wednesday. Sharks forward Joe Pavelski will be the captain, with Kane and Wild defenseman Ryan Suter serving as the alternates.
Kane, the reigning NHL MVP, has represented the U.S. at the past two Olympic Games. He's been a crucial part of the national team over the past few years, and enters the World Cup in Toronto as the most talented player on the American roster.
"I want him to take more responsibility now. I think he's ready for more responsibility now," Tortorella said of Kane.
The Americans will need a lot out of Kane in order to come out victorious in the World Cup, which runs Sept. 17 to Oct. 1. The team's roster isn't quite as talented as the groups hailing from Canada, Finland and Sweden, and Tortorella's hints at a physical strategy seem likely to backfire in a tournament full of superstars. It may be up to guys like Kane, Pavelski and Blake Wheeler to rack up points like crazy while still playing defensively responsible hockey to win some games.
For Kane, it's a nice nod to his importance on the national team, which doesn't really have the large stable of high-scoring superstars you see on some other rosters. Part of that is the result of passing on talented players like Tyler Johnson in favor of a Justin Abdelkader, part of it is that some of the best American players are under-23 and representing Team North America. But in general, Kane stands above most of his American peers, and now he's got the leadership role to prove it.
Beyond the captaincy trio of Pavelski, Kane and Suter, the U.S. will also have Bruins center David Backes, Ducks center Ryan Kesler, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Wild winger Zach Parise will part of the team's leadership group. Parise was the captain for the Americans at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, where they failed to medal.
Kane isn't the only Blackhawk in a leadership role at the World Cup, too. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews will be an alternate captain for Canada.