At a time when most hockey fans’ attention is focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs hockey players from many different nations gather to participate in the World Hockey Championship. This year they are being co-hosted by Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland. Over the 17 days of the tournament teams from Canada, United States, Slovakia, France, Belarus, Finland, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russia, and Sweden will be vying for the gold, silver or bronze medals. Also on the line is ranking in the next Winter Olympic Games for the teams involved. So there is more than national pride on the line.
Traditionally the Canadian roster is filled with players from teams that did not make the playoffs or whose teams lost in the first round. This year the team will be captained by Anaheim Duck and Team Canada veteran Ryan Getzlaf. He will be joined at forward by Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks), Alexandre Burrows (Vancouver Canucks), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes), Evander Kane (Winnipeg Jets), Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers), Teddy Purcell (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers), Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars), Patrick Sharp (Chicago Black Hawks), Andrew Ladd (Winnipeg Jets), Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado Avalanche), in nets by Cam Ward (Carolina Hurricanes), Devan Dubnyk (Edmonton Oilers), Matt Hackett (Minnesota Wild), and on defence by Jay Boumeester (Calgary Flames), Luke Schenn (Toronto Maple Leafs), Duncan Keith (Chicago Black Hawks), Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks), Mark Methot (Columbus Blue Jackets), and undrafted 18-year-old Ryan Murray. The team’s head coach is Brent Sutter and his assistants are Kirk Muller (Carolina Hurricanes) and Guy Boucher (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Canada is starting off the tournament with a tough game. They will play Slovakia in their opening game on Friday, May 4, 2012. Slovakia has a decent team with familiar players like Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Andrej Sekera (Buffalo Sabres), Marcel Hossa (formerly of the Montreal Canadiens and others), Miroslav Satan (formerly of the Buffalo Sabres and others), and Tomas Kopecky (Florida Panthers). They are also in the same division as their bitter rivals the U.S. as well as Belarus, Switzerland (who they played some exhibition games against before the tournament), France, Finland, and Kazakhstan.
While there is plenty of talent on the teams it is for many countries not a true representation of the top of their talent pool. Nevertheless, it is high calibre hockey and any time players are competing for their countries it tends to up their compete factor.
-Dates: May 4-20, 2012
-Canada’s Schedule: FRI, MAY 4 – 9:15 a.m. ET Helsinki Canada vs. Slovakia
SAT, MAY 5 – Canada vs. United States of America
MON, MAY 7 – 9:15 a.m. ET Helsinki France vs. Canada
WED, MAY 9 – 1:15 p.m. ET Helsinki Canada vs. Switzerland
FRI, MAY 11 – 1:15 p.m. ET Helsinki Finland vs. Canada
SAT, MAY 12 – 1:15 p.m. ET Helsinki Kazakhstan vs. Canada
TUE, MAY 15 – 5:15 a.m. ET Helsinki Canada vs. Belarus