UFA, RUSSIA – Mark Scheifele received Canada's player-of-the-game award on the ice after Friday's victory, but he did not get the cape. Neither did captain Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who leads the tournament with seven points after adding a goal and an assist against Slovakia. Ryan Strome had a pair of goals and is second behind Nugent-Hopkins with five points so far, but he also was cape-less after the comeback was complete.
Perhaps a defenceman then.
Morgan Rielly had a goal and two assists while Xavier Ouellet had a pair of helpers but, nope, they were not wearing the superhero-style accessory following Canada's second game. That, of course, would be the special Team Canada cape with the slogan, 'The Reason,' emblazoned on the back, which will be given by the coaching staff to a player after each win.
On Friday, the honour was reserved for... drumroll please... defenceman Scott Harrington.
"You know what," said head coach Steve Spott when asked why the London Knights captain got the honour, "his statistic is shot blocks and, I tell you what, he is so talented when it comes to killing penalties and battling for his hockey club that, in our mind tonight, he did so much yeoman's work, he deserved the cape."
However, Harrington did not do enough to elicit an interview request and was nowhere to be found when the mixed zone was opened to reporters following the game. Meanwhile, 11 of his teammates – Nugent-Hopkins, Strome, Scheifele, Rielly, Ouellet, Ty Rattie, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, Malcolm Subban, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nate MacKinnon – fielded questions.
After Wednesday's game, Spott noted part of the idea behind giving out the cape was to make the player wear it during interviews.
"We think the cape is something unique," said Spott. "And it embarrasses them a little bit when they have to come out here and face you guys [reporters]... they need to laugh, these are teenage kids and we forget that sometimes."
This is nothing new for Harrington who, despite being one of six returning players at the selection camp, was far from a media darling. That's what happens when doing your job well usually means you don't get noticed. But Harrington's role on the team is critical, especially when you consider Canada lacks a true shutdown pairing at this year's event.
"When you look at teams in the past, maybe you had those two guys who were designated [as shutdown guys]," Spott said on Thursday. "Maybe if Ryan Murray was here, things would be different, but now it's a group. Dougie Hamilton is versatile and we're using him both offensively and defensively, but Scott Harrington is really the captain when it comes down to our shutdown group."
One person who did notice Harrington against the Slovaks was his goalie.
"Oh yeah, 100%, especially at the end of those power plays when it's getting really tiring and he's blocking shots and moving pucks out and making saves for me," said Subban. "I remember one in the third, the puck was coming and he just stopped it with his stick and shot it down. That's all you can ask for from a defenceman."
And Harrington, as an assistant captain, was charged with steadying the ship when controversy swirled following the ejection of Anthony Camara in the second period. Canada was trailing its under-dog opponents at the time.
"I give our leadership team credit," said Spott. "They did a great job on our bench with their messaging. We stayed resilient."
"In our room, the captains stepped up," said Subban when asked what happened behind closed doors.
Comfortable in the Shadows
Harrington, a Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, has made it clear in the past that he doesn't crave attention.
"I wasn't looking forward to having an abundance of interviews so it doesn't bother me at all," he said earlier this month after the selection camp wrapped up.
And perhaps it's fitting that Harrington remains somewhat anonymous. As TSN host James Duthie noted via his Twitter account upon hearing the defenceman had been shutout by reporters again, "I like it. True superheroes stay in the shadows."