2008 world hockey championship
The 'other' countries
Most of the Big Seven countries at the world championships (which started today in Halifax and Quebec) have a good stable of NHLers on their rosters, but that's not the case for the other nine countries taking part.
Here's a look at their North American connections:
Belarus: Vladimir Denisov, a defenceman from Lake Erie of the AHL, is the only player playing outside of Europe on the roster. Other connections include former NHLers Curt Fraser (head coach), Glen Hanlon and Vladimir Tsyplakov (assistants). Ruslan Salei and the Kostitsyn brothers could be added to the team.
Denmark: The Danes have two Canadians and two Swedes on the coaching staff, Mike Sirant and Ken Babey, and Mats Mejdevi and Stefan Lunner. Jannik Hansen and Morten Madsen played in the AHL this season.
France: Capitals netminder Cristobal Huet's the biggy here.
Germany: Former NHL defenceman Uwe Krupp is behind the bench, with three NHLers under his command: Dennis Seidenberg, Christoph Schubert and Dimitri Patzold. Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc from the Sharks could be added, while former Kamloops Blazer Jason Holland, an Albertan who has played the past three years in Germany, is on the team's blueline.
Italy: Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi is an assistant here, but everyone else is a 'who?'
Latvia: Kings' goon Raitis Ivanans is the only NHLer on the roster, and there's even an OHL player, Senators draft pick Kaspars Daugavins.
Norway: Marius Holtet was playing in the Stars organization in the AHL this season. Assistant coach George Kingston is probably the most interesting story, given he's at various times been the coach at the University of Calgary, the Canadian national team, an assistant coach with the North Stars, Thrashers and Panthers, and the head coach of the San Jose Sharks from 1991-93 (they won 28 games in two seasons under Kingston). They'd love to have an NHLer in Patrick Thoresen, but he's tied up with the Flyers.
Slovenia: The Kopitars are the names of note here. Anze, of course, plays for the Kings and is the face of Slovene hockey, but his father, Matjaz, is the assistant coach. It's amazing this team is in the tournament, frankly.
Switzerland: As per usual, the Swiss' biggest strength is in goal, where they have Martin Gerber and Jonas Hiller as their lone NHL representatives. They're the only ones in Quebec hoping the Habs and Mark Streit are eliminated Saturday.
Slovakia's considered part of the Big Seven but is very light on NHL talent this time around and will have a tough task with only Marcel Hossa, Andrej Sekera, Branislav Mezei and Lubomir Visnovsky making the commitment so far.
Labels: World championship