The Calgary Flames missed the playoffs. The Abbotsford Heat have already been knocked out. The only Flames prospects currently playing are with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. But that doesn’t mean that hockey is over.
Nope. It’s time for the World Hockey Championships.
Known rather tongue-in-cheek as “the Olympics for players that aren’t hurt or in the playoffs,” this year’s Worlds are unique in that a lot of fresh faces are playing for the first time. The reason? It’s an Olympic year, and a lot of players that normally would be playing in the tournament have a ton of mileage on their bodies and have opted out.
Their loss is somebody else’s gain, though.
Mikael Backlund [Team Sweden]
- 2007 Flames first round draft pick; 25.
- Previously represented Sweden at two World Championships, two World Juniors and two World U-18s.
- Previously won silver and bronze at the Worlds, two silvers at the World Juniors and a bronze at the U-18s
- Had a career year with 39 points in 76 games with the Flames.
Sven Baertschi [Team Switzerland]
- 2011 Flames first round draft pick; 21.
- Previously represented Switzerland at two World Juniors and two World U-18s.
- Split 2013-14 season between Calgary and Abbotsford. Had 11 points in 26 NHL games and 29 points in 41 AHL games.
Johnny Gaudreau [Team USA]
- 2011 Flames fourth round draft pick; 20.
- Previously represented the USA at the World Juniors, where he lead the tournament in goal-scoring and won a gold medal.
- Closed out college career this year with 80 points in 40 games for Boston College, won basically every individual award available for a great college player. Played a game for Calgary and scored a goal.
Jiri Hudler [Team Czech Republic]
- 2002 Red Wings second round draft pick; 30 (acquired by Calgary as a free agent).
- Previously represented Czech Republic at two World Championships, three World Juniors and two World U-18s; won a U-18 bronze medal.
- Led Flames in points this season with 54 points in 75 games.
Sean Monahan [Team Canada]
- 2013 Flames first round draft pick; 19.
- Previously represented Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, won gold.
- Had 34 points (and 22 goals) with Flames as a rookie this year.
The Worlds are a weird tournament.
There are 16 teams involved, split into two 8-country groupings. The usual hockey powers are there, plus some lesser lights, such as Italy, Kazakhstan, France and host Belarus.
Group A has Canada, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, France and Italy. Group B has the USA, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Latvia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Every team plays every team in their group once in round robin, and then quarter-finals seedings are based on round robin standings.
And yes, this means that the round robin section is quite long.
Times are MT. Full schedule available here. Televised games are bolded.
- Friday, May 9: Canada vs. France (7:45am, TSN), Switzerland vs. Russia (7:45am), Czechs vs. Slovakia (11:45am), USA vs. Belarus (11:45am, TSN)
- Saturday, May 10: Sweden vs. Denmark (7:45am), Canada vs. Slovakia (11:45am, TSN), USA vs. Switzerland (11:45am, TSN2)
- Sunday, May 11: Sweden vs. Czechs (7:45am)
- Monday, May 12: Switzerland vs. Belarus (7:45am), Canada vs. Czechs (11:45am, TSN), USA vs. Russia (11:45am, TSN2)
- Tuesday, May 13: Sweden vs. Norway (11:45am)
- Wednesday, May 14: Czechs vs. Italy (7:45am), Switzerland vs. Germany (7:45am)
- Thursday, May 15: Canada vs. Denmark (7:45am, TSN), USA vs. Latvia (7:45am, TSN2), Sweden vs. France (11:45am)
- Friday, May 16: Canada vs. Italy (7:45am, TSN), USA vs. Kazakhstan (7:45am, TSN2), Sweden vs. Slovakia (11:45am), Switzerland vs. Finland (11:45am)
- Saturday, May 17: Czechs vs. Denmark (7:45am), Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan (11:45am)
- Sunday, May 18: Canada vs. Sweden (7:45am, TSN), USA vs. Finland (7:45am, TSN2), Czechs vs. Norway (11:45am)
- Monday, May 19: Sweden vs. Italy (11:45am)
- Tuesday, May 20: Canada vs. Norway (3:45am, TSN), USA vs. Germany (3:45am, TSN2), Switzerland vs. Latvia (7:45am), Czechs vs. Finland (11:45am)
- Thursday, May 22: Quarterfinals (all on TSN or TSN2)
- Saturday, May 24: Semi-Finals (both on TSN)
- Sunday, May 25: Medal Games (both on TSN)
Upside? Nothing on tape delay! Downside? Barely any chances to see Baertschi, Backlund or Hudler play.