“C” of change
by Andrew Podnieks|16 AUG 2022
Roni Hivonen of Finland is one of the returning captains from the December events.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
The current World Juniors is a makeup event for the cancelled tournament last Christmas, and most teams have many players returning from eight months ago. But among the 250 players here now in Edmonton, there has been a changing of the guard for many teams’ captaincy, along with a few returnees and one slightly odd scenario.

Canada’s December captain, Kaiden Guhle, decided not to play in August. Drafted 16th overall by Montreal two years ago, he preferred to focus on the upcoming season. Mason McTavish, selected 3rd overall by Anaheim in 2021, has accepted the invitation and was named captain after training camp. He has responded in spades and has become the face of the host team.

In the case of the United States, coach Nate Leaman didn’t have December captain Jake Sanderson available to him. The defenceman logged a team high 22:24 in its only game last time, but he sustained a hand injury while playing with the University of North Dakota last March that required surgery at the time and again this month. In his place, Leaman has handed the “C” to Brock Faber, a 2020 draft choice by Los Angeles who has been playing with the University of Minnesota.

In Germany, coach Tobias Abstreiter has had a tough time, coming to Edmonton without J.J. Peterka, Tim Stutzle, and captain Florian Elias, a forward with Adler Manheim who opted not to play this summer. One man’s loss is another man’s opportunity, so the “C” has been awarded to Maximilian Glotzl, a 20-year-old who played at the 2021 World Juniors as well as both games last December. 

Samuel Knazko captained Slovakia last time around, but now the “C” adorns the sweater of Rayen Petrovicky because Knazko has been injured and wasn’t fully healthy enough to fly to Edmonton. Rayen is the son of Robert Petrovicky and was a teammate of Knazko last December.

Austria’s Marco Kasper, one of Detroit’s top prospects, decided not to play because he wanted to rest and prepare for the upcoming season. That allowed Leon Wallner to take the “C” for Osterreich, but Kasper’s loss is a huge blow for Austria. He played at the 2021 U20 as well and this past May participated in the senior World Championship in Helsinki.

Perhaps the oddest circumstance is in Switzerland. Dario Sidler was captain eight months ago, but Simon Knak now wears the “C”. The oddity is that Sidler is also here in Edmonton, but coach Marco Bayer opted to make Knak the captain. Knak missed the December tournament due to health reasons but is now in his third World Juniors and previously had played at the U18 for the Swiss. His experience got him the job, so to speak.

Three teams have been fortunate enough to keep the same “C”-man. Finland’s Roni Hirvonen was captain then as now. Ditto for Emil Andrae with Sweden and Jan Mysak with Czechia. So six of nine captains have changed in these eight months, for a variety of reasons, but every coach is the same with one exception. Czechia’s Karel Mlejnik has been replaced by Radim Rulik, who chose to retain Mysak.