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Canadiens: Suzuki’s Decision Not To Play At Worlds Is Justified

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Montreal Canadiens Nick Suzuki

Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki emerged as a top-line centre this season.

Not just because he set career highs in goals and points, with 33 goals and 44 assists in 82 games, though that was certainly encouraging.

More than his production, Suzuki played his leadership role to perfection, maintaining incredibly strong locker room health during yet another difficult rebuilding season.

On top of keeping all the players in line, Suzuki led by example on the ice, once again playing all 82 games of the schedule while the majority of his teammates spent time recovering from a variety of injuries.

His excellent season led to an invite to participate for Team Canada at the World Championship this summer, an invitation Suzuki declined.

Of course, some may interpret this as some sort of insult toward Hockey Canada.

Michel Bergeron opined that Suzuki is duty-bound to join the Canadian squad, especially if he wants to eventually earn an invite to the Canadian Olympic roster.

“When I think of great athletes like Ovechkin, his team was eliminated and he couldn’t wait to join the Russian squad for the World Championship,” said Bergeron. “Now, I see Suzuki, and people are telling me he’s tired. Tired of what, exactly?”

While Bergeron is known for his bombastic attitude when it comes to hockey commentary, his approach to the subject is quite clearly incendiary rather than logical.

Context Is Crucial

Only three other centres were given a higher average time on ice than Suzuki this summer, and all three are currently involved in playoff hockey.

This means that Suzuki was the player who spent the most time on the ice of all available centres for Team Canada.

In other words, he’s the player who has the most reason to cite health or exhaustion as a reason to skip the tournament. On top of the ice time, Suzuki, like most players, has nursed a bevy of injuries despite being the team’s ironman. Just because he appeared in all games does not mean he avoided injuries.

If Team Canada fails to invite Suzuki to their Olympic camps because he refused to push his body beyond the realm of reasonable, then there are bigger issues at play, as it would be an intellectually dishonest manner in which to build a hockey roster.

Yes, playing for Team Canada at the World Championship would certainly improve Suzuki’s odds of representing his country at the 2026 Winter Olympics, but we also have to keep in mind there is a lot of hockey left to play between now and the roster announcements.

More than anything, Suzuki’s play in the NHL will dictate whether he’s invited.

And that’s where his focus has been.

Given his responsibilities to the Montreal Canadiens franchise, that’s where his focus must be.