With the Red Wings season coming to a premature close, let’s look a head to which Red Wings will be playing hockey in May. The world championships are May 5-21 in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany and so far we have three confirmed Wings who will be playing, along with two more members of the staff who are also participating.
Dylan Larkin was once again invited to play for Team USA and he enthusiastically said yes. This is a great opportunity for him to play more hockey, gain more experience, and be rewarded and acknowledged on the international stage for being a very good player already.
Jimmy Howard will be in net for Team USA, and after his season was much shorter than expected, thanks to missing 32 Red Wings games due to injury, this is a great opportunity for Jimmy to play some more hockey, and make sure his knee is not only healed, but back up to 100% strength. He only returned to the Wings lineup with a month left in the season and I see this as a great opportunity for him.
Jeff Blashill has accepted the invitation to be the head coach of Team USA. While I know some fans have so quickly turned against Blashill and place a substantial amount of blame for the Wings disappointing season, I think he deserves this honor. We’ve seen the Wings playoff streak coming to an end for several years now and there are plenty of people to shoulder that responsibility. This won’t be Blashill’s first taste of international coaching, as he was the goaltending coach for the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championship and an assistant coach for both the U.S. Junior Select Team at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge and the U.S. National Under-18 Select Team at the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Justin Abdelkader was invited to play for Team USA but is doubtful he’ll be able to accept, due to a nagging knee injury he suffered on December 1st. He returned to the Wings lineup Jan 10th but says he never fully recovered. While he hasn’t officially declined the invitation to my knowledge, it’s not looking likely he’ll play.
Danny DeKeyser has also been invited to play for Team USA, but hasn’t decided if he’ll accept or not. I haven’t heard anything yet on why he’s undecided, but it could be a nagging injury, personal/family reasons, or something else all together.
In what was a painful statement for me to read, Henrik Zetterberg has declined the invitation to play for team Sweden, saying it’s time to pass the torch on to younger players. So much was made this year about Zetterberg being a 36 year old that everyone expected to decline, and his performance and determination have made me love him even more than I did before; which I didn’t realize was possible. Hearing him say that it’s time to pass the Team Sweden torch on to younger players hits me right in the feels, because it’s a sad reminder that he really is getting older and I don’t want to think about that, and what it meas for the Wings.
Gustav Nyquist also declined the invitation to play for Team Sweden. Expressen has a quote that my dear friend Patrik Bexell translated as “I am sad about it, and if I could I would have gone in a second, I am just not fit for fight”. Nyquist also said “I have an injury I don’t want to talk about too much, I have played with it a while, I need to look after that and make sure it heals up properly” and indicated that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.
Frans Nielsen was invited to play for his home country of Denmark but has decided not to play. A rough translation of the linked article tells us that Nielsen was very torn on making the decision and has always wanted to/wants to play for Denmark, however he traveled to Minsk and the Olympic qualifier five days after his son was born and has hardly had any time with his family since then. He said his family, and especially his son, needs to be the priority for him, and he hopes that he’ll be invited again in the future to play for his country. That’s got to be a tough decision to make, but I’m proud of him for choosing to put his family first.
Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes for the Czech Republic. Despite a not so good overall year for Mrazek, it’s no surprise he got the call from his home country. Not only because he’s a very good goalie when he plays up to his potential, but the Czech Republic doesn’t have nearly as large a pool of top notch goalies to choose from as some of the larger countries.
Tomas Tatar was invited to play for Slovakia, but is having surgery on a shoulder and will miss 4-6 months but expects to be ready for Red Wings training camp in September. He said it’s been a chronic issue for the last few seasons and has been bothering him almost every game. He’ll use the long off season to have surgery and recover, so hopefully he won’t be dealing with the injury in the future.
Paul Boyer, the Red Wings long time equipment manager will serve as the the equipment manager for team Canada at Worlds as well.
It feels strange not to have Team Sweden stocked with Red Wings, but it it fun to see more and more of Team USA represented by Wings players and now the coach. At least we can still watch a few of our beloved Red Wings playing hockey in May. Ouch, I think it’s still too soon.
UPDATE: Danny DeKeyser has accepted the invitation to play for Team USA.
Who will you be rooting for the most?
This poll is closed
USA- Larkin, Howard, Blashill, and the Red White & Blue
Czech Republic- Petr Mrazek is Mraznificent!
Canada- hey, equipment managers are important too!
Sweden- Those beautiful jerseys and the memories of all the Swedish Red Wings compels me.
Other- Drop in the comments who and why.