Do you know which Penguins will play for their country this spring? That’s exactly what international sporting competitions involve. Click/tap “Continue Reading” to find out more.
Flashback to 2015 and 2016
Last year, no Pittsburgh Penguin player could participate in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship because the tournament coincided with the club’s eventually successful run to the Stanley Cup. (As a result, only players from NHL clubs that are eliminated from, or failed to qualify for, the playoffs get selected for their country’s World Championship team.) According to the IIHF World Championship’s Wikipedia page, Canada won the gold medal with Finland taking second and the Russian Federation (host nation) third.
In the Czech Republic-hosted 2015 tournament, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played for the Canadian and the Russian national teams respectively (Wikipedia). The two nations met in the gold medal game, which Team Canada won 6-1. (Refer to the section “The Crosby-Malkin Duo on the International Scene” for further information.)The United States national team managed to round out the podium with the bronze medal, despite having been weakened by the NHL playoffs.
2017: No Penguins, But Rival Clubs
Fast-forward to 2017. France and Germany will be co-hosting this year’s edition of the IIHF World Championship. Just as with last year, nobody on the Penguins roster will be playing for their country. That’s because the Pens are trying to defend their Stanley Cup, and, again, NHL players are unavailable for IIHF World Championship selection if their club is busy with playoff hockey.
However, the Pens’ arch-rival Philadelphia Flyers do have IIHF World Championship-participating players. Since they did not qualify for the playoffs, its players could exchange the orange jersey for that of their country. In fact, the Flyers have nine internationals, five of whom are playing for Team Canada.
Following the Columbus Blue Jackets’ playoff elimination by Pittsburgh, four of the team’s players will take part in the World Championship. Forward Markus Hännikäinen and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will represent Finland, while defenseman Dean Kukan and forward William Karlsson will play for Switzerland and Sweden respectively.
The Crosby-Malkin Duo on the International Scene
Pittsburgh Penguin fans may perceive Sidney Crosby (Canada) and Evgeni Malkin (Russia) as teammates, but they play against each other in international competition. In addition to the aforementioned silver from 2015, Malkin possesses World Championship gold medals from 2012 and 2014 tournaments, as well as a silver in 2010 and bronze in 2005 and 2007. Crosby is a member of the IIHF’s aptly-named “Triple Gold Club” – players who have finished first in the Stanley Cup, Olympics, and World Championship. When he won the 2015 Worlds, Crosby entered ice hockey’s most elite fraternity. Sid additionally won last year’s World Cup of Hockey for Team Canada.
However, the Wikipedia page “2016 World Cup of Hockey rosters” reports that the pair were not the only Penguins who participated in the NHL-sanctioned competition. Defenseman Olli Maatta was selected for Finland’s national team despite incurring a military obligation. (He ended up not serving, due to injury.) Canadian goaltender Matt Murray played for Team North America, which featured under-23 players from the USA and Canada. To round out the six-man group of Penguins-turned-internationals, Swedish wingers Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist also played for their country.
In contrast to most other international ice hockey competitions, the World Cup of Hockey is an NHL-sanctioned tournament. That means its rules are utilized rather than their IIHF counterparts.