The Lightning will send the most number of players to represent their respective countries (or continents) when the World Cup festivities officially get underway with training camp opening in North America and Europe on Monday and Tuesday.
Twelve members of the team — close to half of them on Team Russia — will participate, and that number doesn’t include Ryan Callahan, who pulled out for Team USA because of an injury. The Chicago Blackhawks have the second highest number of players in the World Cup with 10, and that’s without Duncan Keith, who withdrew for Team Canada because of an injury.
The World Cup is another chance to see the best hockey players in the world in one tournament. It allows players like Steven Stamkos, who couldn't represent Canada at the 2012 Sochi Olympics after breaking his leg, another opportunity to represent his country. And other players like Jiri Hudler, meanwhile... well.
Anyway, here’s a brief primer of the history of the World Cup from Newsday’s Steve Zipay:
Professional athletes weren’t allowed to participate in the Olympic Games until 1986, so the Canada Cup was created to fill a hockey void. It was played five times between 1976 and 1991 and replaced by the first World Cup in 1996.
That tournament was won by Team USA, captained by Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch, defeating Canada, 5-2, in Game 3 of the best-of-three finals behind extraordinary goaltending by the Rangers’ Mike Richter, who was named Most Valuable Player.
A second World Cup was staged in various venues, some in Europe, in 2004, and won by Canada, with Devils icon Martin Brodeur in goal.
So here we are to present day. Eight teams will compete from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 including a mashup of players for Team Europe and Team North America. The teams largely feature NHL players and coaches, but not all of them. By October you might come to know, love or hate some of them.
Any team that has a player competing in the tournament has something at stake. Injuries are part of the game, and it will be horrifying to see anyone go down, much less have their season end because of this "preseason" tournament, but that’s the risk you take in the name of your country... or continent.
Here are the Lightning contingent, which includes Jon Cooper as an assistant coach for Team North America.
F Steven Stamkos
Captain: Sidney Crosby
G Ben Bishop
Captain: Joe Pavelski
D Victor Hedman
D Anton Stralman
Captain: Henrik Sedin
F Nikita Kucherov
F Vlad Namestnikov
D Nikita Nesterov
G Andrei Vasilevskiy
Captain: Alex Ovechkin
F Valtteri Filppula
Captain: Mikko Koivu
Team Czech Republic
F Ondrej Palat
D Andrej Sustr
Captain: Tomas Plekanec
Captain: Anze Kopitar
The numbers game
With a conglomeration of players, there’s always bound to be a number of teammates who don the same jersey number. That’s all been sorted out.
Here’s the full story from Joe Alfieri from NBC Sports:
- Three players on Canada’s roster regularly wear No. 19 with their NHL teams (Jonathan Toews, Jay Bouwmeester and Joe Thornton). But it’s Tyler Seguin, who usually wears No. 91 in Dallas, that will take 19. Toews will go with his usual international No. 16, Thornton has taken 97 and Bouwmeester will wear No. 4.
- Steven Stamkos keeps No. 91, while John Tavares takes No. 20.
- Team USA’s Justin Abdelkader will wear No. 89 because No. 8 is taken by Sharks forward Joe Pavelski.
- USA’s Derek Stepan keeps No. 21, while James van Riemsdyk takes No. 16.
- 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews will wear no. 34 for Team North America.
- Russia’s Artemi Panarin has taken No. 27 because his usual No. 72 is taken by goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
- Team USA: Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide Arena
- Team Canada: Ottawa, Canadian Tire Center
- North America: Montreal, Bell Center and Quebec City, Videotron Centre
- Europe: Montreal, Bell Center and Quebec City, Videotron Centre
- Sweden: Gothenburg, Scandinavium
- Czech: Republic Prague, O2 Arena
- Finland: Helsinki, Hartwall Arena
- Russia: St. Petersburg, Russia
Exhibition games (all times are Eastern)
Thursday, Sept. 8
- Team Czech Republic vs. Team Russia. VTB Arena. Moscow, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3
- Team Sweden vs. Team Finland. Hartwall Arena, Helsinki, Noon ET, ESPN3
- Team Europe vs. Team North America. Videotron Center, Quebec City, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Friday, Sept. 9
- Team Canada vs. Team USA. Nationwide Arena, Columbus, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Saturday, Sept. 10
- Team Finland vs. Team Sweden. Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Noon, ESPN3
- Team Russia vs. Team Czech Republic. O2 Arena, Prague, 10:30 a.m., ESPN3
- Team USA vs. Team Canada. Canadian Tire Center, Ottawa, 7 p.m., ESPN3
Sunday, Sept. 11
- Team Europe vs. Team North America. Bell Center; Montreal, 6 p.m., ESPN3
Tuesday, Sept. 13
- Team Finland vs. Team USA. Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 7 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Sept. 14
- Team Czech Republic vs. Team North America. CONSOL Energy Center; Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
- Team Canada vs. Team Russia. CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
- Team Sweden vs. Team Europe. Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 7 p.m., ESPN3
Preliminary round, round robin
All in Toronto, Air Canada Center
Saturday, Sept. 17
- Team USA vs. Team Europe, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
- Team Czech Republic vs. Team Canada, 8 p.m., ESPNEWS
Sunday, Sept. 18
- Team Sweden vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m., ESPN
- Team North America vs. Team Finland, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Monday, Sept. 19
- Team Europe vs. Team Czech Republic, 3 p.m., ESPN
- Team Russia vs. Team North America, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Tuesday, Sept. 20
- Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m., ESPN
- Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m., ESPN
Semifinals, single elimination
Saturday, Sept. 24
- Semifinal one, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Sunday, Sept. 25
- Semifinal two, 10 a.m. ESPN
Finals, best of three
Tuesday, Sept. 27
- Final: Game one, 5 p.m., ESPN
Thursday, Sept. 29
- Final: Game two, 5 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday, Oct. 1
- Final: Game three (if necessary), 4 p.m., ESPN2