Jan 31, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
The Minnesota Wild’s Zach Parise was named the U.S. men’s hockey team captain for the Sochi Olympics on Friday afternoon. He is the youngest U.S. men’s hockey captain since National Hockey League players began competing in the Olympics starting with the Nagano Games in 1998.
“I was pretty thrilled the other day to get that call from [head coach Dan] Bylsma,” Parise said on Friday. “I am lucky enough to join a pretty elite list of players that have been captains for the United States…There’s plenty of guys that wear letters with their own teams. I don’t think our team is going to be lacking in leadership at all.”
Dustin Brown, captain for the Los Angeles Kings, and Ryan Suter, who, like Parise, is an alternate captain for the Wild, will serve as the U.S. team’s alternates in Sochi.
The Americans are looking to go one step higher on the podium after winning the silver four years ago in Vancouver, which saw the team captained by the recently retired Jamie Langenbrunner.
Parise, who was a teammate with Langenbrunner on the New Jersey Devils at the time, served as an alternate captain in Vancouver and scored the tying goal that sent the gold medal game against Canada to overtime.
Langenbrunner himself took over the captain’s role from Chris Chelios after he led Team USA in the previous three Winter Olympics (Nagano 1998, Salt Lake City 2002, Torino 2006).
Several of Team USA’s gold medal rivals have already made their choices for men’s hockey captains. Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby will lead the reigning champions from Canada, while Detroit Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will captain the host Russians and Swedes, respectively.
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