Captain Karl to lead

SCOTT FISHER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

CALGARY -- Captain Karl.

It's got a nice ring to it.

Defenceman Karl Alzner couldn't agree more as he stared down at his new Team Canada jersey, complete with a 'C' on his chest.

"Captain Karl," a beaming Alzner said yesterday morning. "I was hoping they'd put a 'K' on my jersey, but I got the 'C' so I'll make do."

The blueliner is too young to remember the Soviet Red Army team's captain always wore a 'K'.

"Really?" he asked. "OK, well then I don't want a 'K'. Maybe I'll change my name to a 'C' just so it works out better."

The Calgary Hitmen captain reacted to the honour with wide-eyed amazement.

"I was very surprised," he said. "I was called into the room and (the coaches) told me they were going to name me captain. I was like 'Wow.'

"I got on the phone and told everybody and sure enough, it's on my jersey. It's amazing."

Alzner said he was having trouble finding the words to describe his feelings.

"It's incredible," he said. "I'd like to say it's a dream come true for me but I've never even dreamed of becoming a captain or assistant with Team Canada. I was always just trying to make the team.

"It's a feeling that is hard to describe but I'm so honoured and I want to show my country that I can help lead."

National junior team head coach Craig Hartsburg selected five leaders from a group of 15 who wear letters with their respective junior clubs.

Four alternates -- Brad Marchand, Brandon Sutter, Logan Pyett and Stefan Legein -- will share the leadership role with Alzner. As they did last year, there will be two alternates per game on a rotating basis.

"I think the more kids you have involved in the leadership, the better. We could have had 10 kids. There's a lot of captains here," Hartsburg said. "In this tournament, with the referees, the emotion in the building -- or some nights, the (lack of) emotion in the building -- it'll be important to have a group that can help fight through that stuff."

The 19-year-old Alzner, one of two returning players from last year's gold medal team, said he'll have no trouble adjusting to the time difference in the Czech Republic.

"Me and Brandon Sutter were roommates throughout the camp and we slept for about 10 hours the entire camp," he said. "We were up late just talking about everything that was going on and who was going to make the team. So maybe I'll be ready to sleep over there."

The Burnaby, B.C., product said one of his goals is to make sure the team comes together quickly.

"I have to make sure the team is always together, making sure we're doing things as a whole, not just a couple guys here and there," he said.

"We want to be the best team in the tournament as coach Hartsburg likes to say."

Team Canada, which left for Europe yesterday, opens the tournament Boxing Day against the host Czechs.


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