REGINA – Colten Teubert would love to be cashing NHL paycheques right now, but he's quick to point out that you can't put a price on gold.
When the 19-year-old defenceman failed to crack the lineup of the Los Angeles Kings this fall, he didn't pout. Teubert diverted all his energy to the consolation prize – returning to the WHL's Regina Pats and gearing up for a second straight gold-medal run at the world junior hockey championship.
"That's one of the reasons I wasn't as disappointed coming back," said Teubert, who struggled in the second half of the 2008-09 campaign after returning from the world juniors in Ottawa. "Last year wasn't a year I want to characterize myself on. I want to be able to go out with a bang and be a complete player and a winner. I want two in a row. I know me and (Pats teammate Jordan Eberle) are going to do whatever it takes to do that."
Although Teubert is focused on a short-term goal, he's well aware of the long-term benefits. The Kings will be closely scrutinizing his performance during the world junior tournament, so Teubert is eager to show them what he can do.
"It's such a highly touted tournament," said the 13th overall pick in the 2008 NHL entry draft. "It really sets guys up. You look at the guys last year that were really successful (at the world juniors). They're all basically in the NHL or the AHL this year. I've played with them. It definitely does provide a lot of motivation."
Although Teubert already has a gold medal on his resume, the experience hasn't lost any lustre. In fact, every time he pulls on the Maple Leaf and skates out in front of a pro-Canada crowd, Teubert feels like a kid in a candy store.
"I remember when I was 12-years-old watching the world juniors at Christmas and Canada didn't win; I was so disappointed because we're supposed to win this tournament," recalled the six-foot-four, 200-pound blue-liner. "Even with all the pressure on us, you can always look up into the crowd and smile during warm- ups. It's kind of surreal. That's what I did every game (last year) in Ottawa. I would just look up into the crowd, look around, pinch myself a couple times and go, `Holy crap, we're really here.' It's one of the biggest moments in my career in hockey, just having the privilege to be invited and selected to the team. There's players in the NHL that haven't even had the opportunity to play in this tournament. I'm just glad Canada has put trust in me and given me the opportunity."
Teubert's experience from last year's tournament made him an obvious choice for a return engagement at the world juniors. As Team Canada's brass stated repeatedly during the tryout process, you can never have too much experience.
"I think (Teubert) is more relaxed this year," noted Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray. "I think he knows the challenges that are ahead having been through a world junior. He knows he's capable of playing at that level and I think he's a lot more comfortable in his own mind. He knows how to get prepared and how things are going to unfold and what's going to be expected of him."
Teubert has worked on improving his foot speed this season, which is something he believes will serve him well on the international stage. He has embraced his role as a shut-down defender and penalty killer, leaving most of the power-play time to the likes of Ryan Ellis and Alex Pietrangelo.
Teubert also wants to be considered a leader, which is why he was so "honoured" to be named an alternate captain on this year's team. In the end, however, it all adds up to the fact that Teubert's ultimate goal is a team goal – winning Canada's sixth consecutive gold medal.
"One of these days when I retire – hopefully it's not any time soon – I'll be looking back remembering all the great times I had as a junior hockey player, " he added. "I'll have some pretty crazy things to tell the kids."