Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'RNH' adds 'C' to alphabetical accolades

Nugent-Hopkins gets nod as junior captain

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CALGARY -- Canada's premier player at the world junior hockey championship will also be its captain.

Edmonton Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was given the nod Friday by head coach Steve Spott.

Nugent-Hopkins, or "RNH" as he's been dubbed, wore the "C" at the Canadian team's official photo in Calgary.

Nugent-Hopkins made an immediate impact in the NHL as an 18-year-old rookie, with 18 goals and 34 assists in 62 games.

The Burnaby, B.C., native was a finalist for the Calder Trophy, but Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado Avalanche took the award that goes to the league's top rookie.

Nugent-Hopkins wants to follow the example of Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff, who helped him adapt to the NHL.

"People see what you do and they want to try to be like that," he said. "The more respect you have, the better the leader you're going to be."

Nugent-Hopkins has been playing for the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons during the NHL lockout, scoring eight goals and adding 12 assists in 19 games.

He was cut from Canada's junior team as a 17-year-old in 2011 and wasn't made available by the Oilers for the 2012 team. So he'll play in his first world junior hockey championship after already participating in a men's world championship.

Nugent-Hopkins had four goals and two assists in eight games in Canada's fifth-place result at this year's men's world championship.

"I've got a couple of chances now to play international and every time I feel like it makes me a little bit of a better player because it is so different," he said.

Canada opens the 2013 tournament Dec. 26 against Germany in Ufa, Russia.

Scott Harrington of the OHL's London Knights and Jonathan Huberdeau of the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs were named alternate captains.

"Those players have played in Memorial Cups and obviously in a world junior championship already," Spott said. "All three of those guys are not only well-respected, but they're well liked by their teammates."

Nugent-Hopkins will centre Canada's top forward line with Huberdeau on his left-wing. The team intends to convert regular centre Mark Scheifele to right wing on that line.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 15, 2012 0

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