Even though the Sochi Olympics aren't until February, it doesn't mean that Canada's quest to retain men's hockey gold hasn't crossed the mind of Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks captain spoke to TSN on Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Classic golf tournament at RattleSnake Point Golf Club in Milton, Ont.
Though there will be no on-ice drills at this summer's orientation camp, Toews, a member of the team who won gold in Vancouver in 2010, acknowledges its importance as a first step to Sochi.
"There's a long way to go before they make up the team that goes out there, but I think a lot of it is just considering the logistics of what it's going to be like with our team and families in Sochi," said Toews, one of 47 players invited to the Canadian camp. "It will be a lot different than we were in Vancouver, so it's just kind of getting prepared in as many ways as we can for what it's going to be like off the ice.”
With some, including Mark Messier, suggesting that Toews could potentially be wearing the captain's "C" for Canada in Sochi, the Winnipeg native says that the thought hasn't even crossed his mind and that the captaincy has to be the right fit.
"If I ever happen to be in that position, hypothetically, as a captain or part of a leadership group on a national team, I think it's something you take very seriously, but it's got to be a natural thing," explained the two-time Stanley Cup champion. "It's very different than being in a locker room with the same group of guys that you're with months at a time with your club team back in the NHL, but you just have to bring that natural instinct of a leader that you would on your normal team and try to say the right things at the right time and make sure that guys are on the same page.”
Some of those guys might not be among the 47 at the orientation camp later this summer. Toews believes that certain players who didn't receive an invite will use that as motivation this season and try to prove to the Canadian braintrust that they made a mistake and force their way into the set-up for Sochi.
"Maybe some guys feel they got snubbed by not getting the invite," said Toews. "There's a lot of guys who probably feel that they deserve a roster spot and I think with a good season they can probably find a way onto it, but for myself, I think you just have to focus on playing well and having a good season and making sure things go well with your team."
Toews says he has kept abreast of the controversial anti-gay laws in Russia and plans for a potential boycott of the games. While the 25-year-old sympathizes with the sentiment, he doesn't agree with the idea of a boycott.
"I don't think they're buying themselves any friends [with the laws] by any means, and I think, obviously, a lot of people are disappointed by the attitude they've had in Russia," says Toews. "I still think it's important to go there and represent your country. You don't have to necessarily believe all the laws that they've instilled in Russia right, so I definitely don't stand behind it."
Toews hopes that fans and athletes alike can find alternative means to voice their displeasure outside of a boycott.
"I'm sure that there a lot of other ways that people can express their disagreement with the anti-gay laws in Russia right now and there will be ways to do that," said Toews. "I'm open to that, but I don't think that not going to the Games is the solution because it's a disappointment for everyone else.”