Although Minnesota Wild prospect Charlie Coyle wore the "C" on his chest in Team USA's 6-3 exhibition loss to Russia, it is another future Wild player who will wear it in the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship December 26-January 5.
Jason Zucker was named the captain of Team USA today (December 23rd) while Emerson Etem (ANA) and Jarred Tinordi (MTL) were named alternates. The 5'11", 174 lb Las Vegas native has 24 points (11 goals - 13 assists) in 18 games playing for the University of Denver. One of two players along with Jack Campbell who were on the gold-medal winning 2010 team also coached by Dean Blais, Zucker is a natural choice.
That said, it's interesting to see how far hockey has grown in the United States. All three players wearing a letter in 2012 are from non-traditional hockey markets (Zucker being from Las Vegas, Etem from California and Tinordi from Maryland). Although the team is well represented by the 3 "Ms" - Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts - other states like Pennsylvania (with 3 players), Illinois and Ohio are represented.
In addition, having another captain come from the Minnesota organization is great because the amount of leadership and talent the Wild have in their prospect pool is mind-boggling. Besides Zucker, the 59th overall selection in 2010 by Minnesota, fellow Wild prospects Mikael Granlund (Finland) and Johan Larsson (Sweden) are also World Junior captains for their countries. It would be interesting to see the last time, if ever, an organization has had three WJC captains in one season. Regardless, Minnesota's international prospect flair and number of players in leadership roles speaks heavily to the quality of drafting General Manager Chuck Fletcher has done since taking over.