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Comtois emotional after being named captain for World Juniors

December 26th, 2018 by Mark Masters -

When’s the last time Maxime Comtois served as the captain of a hockey team?

“I don’t remember,” the Drummondville left winger said with a grin. “I’ve been before, but it’s been a long time. I usually wear the ‘A.'”

As Canada’s only returning player, Comtois was always destined for a leadership role at this year’s World Juniors, but it was still emotional on Tuesday when head coach Tim Hunter announced at a team meeting who would wear the letters. Comtois will serve as captain while London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard, University of Denver defenceman Ian Mitchell and Spokane Chiefs centre Jaret Anderson-Dolan will be the alternates.

“It means everything,” Comtois said. “I don’t really have words for it, but just to represent my teammates and the coaching staff and that they believe in me that I can assume this role and be a leader on this team, it’s a huge honour. We have 11 captains on our team from their club teams so it’s a huge honour to represent them.​”

“Known him now for two years and he’s a good man,” said Hunter, an assistant coach at the last couple World Juniors. “He’s a leader in the locker room. He’s a leader off the ice. He’s led all the way through this on all the little details and the mindset we want and he’s played like a leader on the ice so really felt comfortable with Max. I know him well and have a good relationship with him.”

For the second straight year, Canada’s captain will be someone who doesn’t wear the ‘C’ for his club team. Last year, Dillon Dubé, an alternate in Kelowna, was the captain. And Comtois was watching closely.

“I took notes from that and I’ll try to do the same,” the Longueuil, Que. native said. “He was one of our best guys every night. He was working hard, he was doing all the little details on the ice and that’s the main thing that I learned from him. I have to give my best, try to be the best player out there and compete against the other team and myself to be better every game.”

One big difference is Dubé had six other returning players to lean on last year to help insulate the leadership group whereas Comtois stands alone in that regard this time around. But the personable Comtois, who played 10 NHL games with the Ducks at the start of the season, is anything but shy.

“He’s a guy who feels comfortable out there,” said Ottawa 67s goalie Mikey DiPietro. “He’s kind of a calming force for us, because he’s been in these situations before.”

“He holds guys accountable,” observed Mitchell. “I think that’s the biggest thing that will make him such a great captain for us. If he sees someone not doing things the right way he’ll tell them about it and that will only make our team better.”

Comtois held himself accountable after Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Finland calling it his worst performance of the season and he seemed particularly locked in at practice on Tuesday.

“We’re ready,” Comtois said after the workout. “We had a good practice today. We had good meetings about last game. We turned the page and it’s time to go and we’re going to be ready tomorrow.”

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