International Ice Hockey Federation

Double duty

Double duty

When it’s your country, you go

Published 12.05.2017 19:54 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Double duty
PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 7: Canada's Nate Mackinnon #29 scores against Slovenia's Gasper Kroselj #32 during preliminary round action at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/HHOF-IIHF Images)
By anyone’s measure, it has been a long hockey season.

Indeed, the 2016-17 schedule started earlier than usual because the NHL held its World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

Players started training camp for that event in late August, played several exhibition games to develop their chemistry, and played through September before re-joining their NHL training camps. Then exhibition games, regular season, and now the World Championships!

If it sounds like a lot, it is, but amazingly there are 35 players in Paris and Cologne who also played in the World Cup. Most are NHLers whose team didn’t qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the common thread for everyone who is here is simple—when you get a chance to play for your country, you take it.

As Ryan Smyth once famously said, “there comes a day when they don’t invite you anymore.” So say yes while you can.

Perhaps unique among the 35 is France’s own Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who played for Team Europe in the World Cup and helped the hybrid group advance to the best-of-three finals against Canada.

“I said at the end of the season that if I was fresh enough, I'd go,” Bellemare said. “I was fresh enough, so I'm here.”

Indeed, he’s been key to France’s stunning victories against Finland and Switzerland. He’s had a long season but a fruitful one. This can only help his development and career.

“I’ve been on three completely different teams,” he explained of his long and varied season. “Team Europe was a great opportunity, a great challenge, an unbelievable pride to be a part of. With the Philadelphia Flyers, I also have a role, so I know how I have to play with them, and here I have a different role. It's a little bit easier here. You come back and help the family. It's a great feeling to come back and play with the boys.”

Other players on that Team Europe include three Germans—Tobias Rieder, Dennis Seidenberg, and goaltender Thomas Greiss.

The Eastern Europeans have the most players at the World Championship who also played at the World Cup. Russia leads the way with seven: Ivan Telegin, Yevgeni Dadonov, Artemi Panarin, Nikita Kucherov, Vadim Shipachyov, goalie Andrei Vasilevski, and Vladislav Namestnikov

The Czechs have six, including Radko Gudas, Michal Kempny, Tomas Plekanec, David Pastrnak, Jakub Voracek, and goalie Petr Mrazek

“As long as I was healthy, I was going to come over,” Voracek, the Czech captain, said of playing in Paris. “It’s a long season, starting with the World Cup, 82 games in the season plus some exhibition games, so I’m pushing close to 100. But physically I feel good, so it’s a good time for the next few games.”

Four Canadians in Paris helped Canada win the WCH championship (Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Ryan O’Reilly), while four others played for the 23-and-under Team North America—Nathan MacKinnon, Mark Scheifele, Sean Couturier, and the soon-to-arrive Colton Parayko.

“I wanted to represent my country,” MacKinnon explained, “but the big thing is, I wanted to play some good hockey and win a couple of games. We didn’t do that very much this season [in Colorado]. Obviously, it was tough. But it feels good winning a couple and being on a good team.”

Interestingly, all four Americans in Cologne who played in the World Cup are from the “young guns,” Team North America—Jacob Trouba, Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

There are two Finns as well in Sebastian Aho and Valtteri Filppula. Aho has the distinction not only of stating and finishing his year playing for Suomi, but he’s the only player from this group who also played in his first NHL game this past season. He made his debut with Carolina on October 13, recording an assist, and played all 82 games of the regular season. 

“It was an easy decision for me,” Aho said of accepting an invite to play in Paris. “I feel good. Everything is fine.”

Sweden have four players at the Worlds—Anton Stralman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Victor Hedman, and Gabriel Landeskog. These four are looking for a positive end to the season on many fronts. Tre Kronor was stunned by Team Europe on a Tomas Tatar overtime goal in the World Cup semi-finals, and the four players here also failed to make the NHL playoffs. A podium showing in Cologne next week would be just the ticket to start the summer on a high.


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