HALIFAX, NS.- The hockey spotlight on our region has never been so bright.
Think about it. With the World Cup of Hockey set to take over the hockey universe starting Saturday in Toronto, three players from our region are front and centre.
Of course, there’s Cole Harbour’s Sidney Crosby, a talent needing no introduction to anyone following the game.
There’s also up-and-comer Nathan MacKinnon, another Cole Harbour product who’s expected to be a key member of Team North America, made up of the best 23-and-under players from Canada and the United States.
Then there’s Brad Marchand of Hammonds Plains, better known as a hockey agitator than a star, but whose game has developed into one deserving of his Team Canada selection.
“I can’t think of a time where an event of this stature, where there’s been more than one Nova Scotian,” said Hockey Nova Scotia executive director Darren Cossar.
“It’s just great PR for us. All the positive things you can achieve through hockey.”
Marchand could benefit the most from the World Cup. Hated by some for his style of play with the Boston Bruins, the two-time gold medalist for Canada’s world junior team is showing he has more to offer then being a pest.
In the team’s exhibition game Friday in Columbus, there was Marchand skating on a line with No. 87 himself, a sign of how much confidence the coaching staff has in him.
“It speaks to the fact there’s roles for everybody in the game. Not everybody is the 100 per cent top skill,” Cossar said of Marchand, who netted 37 goals last season for the Bruins.
“He’s not just that agitator. He’s shown he can also play and has the skillset.”
Marchand’s parents are thrilled to see their son on Team Canada. In fact, when they saw him playing on a line with Crosby Friday night, his mom Lynn said, “There was a lot of jumping up and down.”
“Brad is excited – like a dream come true,” she said.
Crosby and Marchand aren’t best friends, but they do skate together in the offseason. They were also spotted together at the BMO Centre in Bedford last month when some Team Canada players united for some skating time.
“They usually skate together at some point throughout the summer,” she said. “They don’t go out and socialize as buddies, but when Sid has ice time, he’ll invite Brad out to play. He’s knows him fairly well.”
As for who he’ll be cheering for at the World Cup, Cossar said Canada, of course, but with a close eye on Team North America.
But no matter the outcome, the event is a big win for the game’s growth from our little province.
“The game is strong in Nova Scotia,” Cossar declared.