'We're all leaders,' says captain Comtois of Canadian junior hockey squad

VANCOUER, B.C. — Maxime Comtois may be the captain of Canada's junior hockey team but the 19-year-old says he isn't alone.

"We're all leaders on this team. We're all wearing a C or an A somewhere in our club team," said the left-winger.

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"Everybody has a different part. Being a captain, I have a bit of a bigger role but it's not going to change my game. Everybody's going to be contributing to our wins."

Comtois was named Canada's captain Tuesday before the world junior championship kicked off in Vancouver and Victoria.

The Anaheim Ducks prospect had two goals and five assists in 10 NHL games this season.

He returned to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Drummondville Voltigeurs in late November and has since tallied another seven points in five games.

Comtois is the lone returning player from last year's gold-medal winning squad after Alex Formenton suffered a knee injury at the team's selection camp.

He was given the captain's job because he leads by example both on and off the ice, said Team Canada head coach Tim Hunter.

"There's no manual on how to be a captain or how to be an assistant captain. So the easiest way to go about doing that is by leading by example. And he really does that," the coach said.

"He's led through this process ... driving the engine in how we want to play as a team — fast, physical, all-in, a three-zone player. And he's been all of that."

The youngest player on this year's national team said Comtois has already helped him improve small things about his game, both on and off the ice.

"He's always sharp. Everything he did is with purpose. He helps everyone around the room to be better," said 17-year-old Alexis Lafreniere.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Evan Bouchard and Ian Mitchell have all been named assistant captains.

Choosing just four players for the leadership group was no easy feat, Hunter said.

"Picking the captains, assistants, that was tough because there's so many leaders on this team," he said.

Bouchard is an Edmonton Oilers prospect currently playing with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights and Mitchell — who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2017 draft — skates in the NCAA with the University of Denver.

Anderson-Dolan plays with the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs.

Being part of the leadership group is an honour, especially after nearly missing the tournament with a wrist injury, said the 19-year-old L.A. Kings prospect.

"I knew the timing would be super close to whether I'd be able to play or not," Anderson-Dolan said. "When I found out, it was a big relief. It's always an honour to represent your country and wear the maple leaf so when I found out I'd be ready in time, it was exciting."

Like many budding Canadian hockey stars, Anderson-Dolan grew up watching the world juniors over the holidays.

"Every Boxing Day I watched it with my family and now I'm lucky enough to be here this year and have my family here," he said. "So it's going to be very special."

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