It's not the same as playing for the Stanley Cup, but two Boston Bruins will continue the quest for a different kind of hardware at the upcoming IIHF World Championships, held in Finland and Sweden. Zdeno Chara will suit up for Slovakia and David Krejci will don the Czech Republic colors for the tournament, which starts on May 4. As a Bruins fan, I'm happy to know this and looking forward to rooting for them.
Neither man is new to representing his country in the Worlds. This is Chara's seventh time at this event, though he hasn't been since 2007. The last time he represented Slovakia was when he served as captain of the country's Olympics team in 2010. He had to do some convincing for the Bruins to allow him to go, considering his broken nose, but he won out and now he's headed to Europe. His home team could probably use his presence: the pre-championships ranking has Slovakia at number ten, just one short of potentially earning a top nine ranking and being good to go for the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
This is Krejci's second time at Worlds--his first was 2008--and he too represented his home country at the Vancouver Olympics. The Czech Republic team is ranked fourth on the pre-championships ranking, plus they come into this year's tourney as bronze medalists in 2011. While Krejci didn't score any points in his 2008 Worlds appearance, he put away two goals and added an assist in the Czech Republic's Olympics run.
Half-host country Finland is the defending champ team and first on the rankings. They will definitely be hungry to repeat and start by doing well on their home turf. The Slovakian squad will start the preliminary round in Helsinki, whereas the Czechs will begin in Stockholm. Here is a full schedule of all the games.
In America, the NBC Sports Network is going to show many Team USA games, including the preliminary round match against Slovakia (schedule can be found here). The time difference means that games may come on at inconvenient times for many US viewers--well, that's what DVRs are for, if you have one!
To see a full roster for every country participating, updated through April 30, click here. Teams still have time to add more players as needed and will enjoy that privilege throughout the entire tournament. For example, last year Alexander Ovechkin joined the Russian team after the Washington Capitals were bounced from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I'm looking forward to Worlds. It's always fun to see guys shed their team differences and play under one united flag. Of course, I will keep a special eye on the two Bruins playing for glory and will provide updates on their happenings in Finland and Sweden.