When the 2014 IIHF World Championship gets underway in Minsk on Friday, the Washington Capitals organization will be well represented. Nine members of the Capitals organization will be playing for their countries when the tournament gets underway this weekend, and those nine will be spread amongst five different rosters.
The Washington contingent includes three Canadians, three Russians and one player each from the United States, Belarus and Germany.
Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward will play for Team Canada in Minsk. Alex Ovechkin will serve as captain of the Russian entry and fellow Capitals Dmitry Orlov and Evgeny Kuznetsov will join him on Team Russia.
“You know I still want to play hockey this year,” said Ovechkin after the Caps’ season ended without Washington in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in seven springs. “I have emotion and I have strength. It’s going to be a nice time for me to try and win a World Championship and try and have a good mood.”
Center Mikhail Grabovski will skate for the host Belarus squad, and two Hershey Bears goaltenders will also represent the Capitals’ organization. Bears goaltender David Leggio represents Team USA and fellow Hershey netminder Philipp Grubauer will mind the twine for Team Germany.
“It’s going to be very interesting because world championship going to be in my hometown,” says Grabovski, “so I’m kind of more excited than anybody. But playing against Wardo or Chimmer or Brouwer is going to be interesting and it is going to be hard, and it is going to be hard for them.”
Grabovski may not need to worry about running into his three Canadian Caps teammates on the ice in Minsk. Canada is in Group A in the tournament along with Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, France and Italy.
Group B is comprised of Finland, Russia, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Latvia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Each team will play one game against each of the other seven teams in its group, and those games will be played in a span of 12 days from May 9-20. The top four teams in each group will then advance to the playoff round, which begins on May 22. Four quarterfinal games will be played on the 22nd, and two semi-final tilts will follow on May 24.
The gold medal and bronze medal games will be played on May 25.
Chimera won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2007 World Championship in Moscow and earned silver the following spring in Halifax. He will be playing in his third World Championship and his first since 2008. Chimera has a goal and eight points in 18 career games worth of World Championship competition.
He’ll be joined by linemate Joel Ward in Minsk, but the third member of that trio – Eric Fehr – won’t be joining them. The Chimera-Fehr-Ward unit was Washington’s most consistent forward line over the last two months of the 2013-14 season.
“I got invited to the World Championship so I’m going to go do that,” replied Chimera last month when asked about his summer plans. “They should have [taken] the whole line. But yeah it should be good, it’s always a fun tournament to play in. Anytime you get a chance to wear your nation’s colors it’s just pretty special. It’s a fun tournament that I have been a part of a couple of times now so it’ll be good.”
Ovechkin will be appearing in the World Championship games for the fifth consecutive spring and the seventh time overall. He has totaled 15 goals and 27 points in 35 games worth of competition at the World Championship games over the years. Ovechkin earned a bronze medal in 2007 and a silver in 2010 before finally winning the gold in 2012. This spring, Orlov and Kuznetsov will join the Caps’ captain on the Team Russia roster.
Orlov is making his World Championship debut this spring.
“Of course it’s big for me because I got like first called up for the international team and I’m pretty excited for this and can’t wait to start practices,” says Orlov. “Of course it’s big for our country and for all Russians to play on the national team.”
Kuznetsov is making his second appearance in the tournament; he contributed two goals and six points in 10 games to the Team Russia cause when it won gold in 2012.
“It’s very important for all Russian players,” says Kuznetsov. “You know, everybody loves their country right? You play for your national team and the whole country is watching this. You want to play. Me, Dmitry and Alex are all very excited to play.”
Grabovski has appeared in four previous World Championship tournaments, totaling three goals and 14 points in 24 games.
Leggio, Grubauer, Ward and Brouwer will all be making their tournament debuts in the 2014 World Championship.