TORONTO — Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel said it was a strange, even comical, scene the first time the North American 23-and-under players gathered for the start of the World Cup of Hockey training camp.
These young American and Canadian NHLers had been intense rivals for years, and now they were being asked to work together in the name of winning a championship. It didn’t come naturally to them.
“The Canadians were in one group and the Americans were in another,” said Eichel, an American. “But it didn’t take us long to come together.”
Indeed the North Americans are viewed as the most intriguing team in the tournament. In addition to high skill level, the team is fast, maybe one of the fastest ever.
The question is whether that speed will be negated by a lack of experience.
“(It’s about) determining the pecking order within the locker room,” North American coach Todd McLellan said. “Who’s the alpha? Who are going to be the followers? I think the players are sorting that out as we go…