DETROIT – Now that they’re out of the Stanley Cup playoffs, five Red Wings have accepted invitations to represent their countries in the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship.
The 17-day tournament in Minsk, Belarus begins May 9.
Abdelkader and DeKeyser will be joined in Minsk by Red Wings teammates Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia) and Gustav Nyquist (Sweden). Both Tatar and Nyquist played in the Sochi Olympics in February.
At least five other Red Wings were asked to play in the two-week tourney, but they declined offers for various reasons, including forward Tomas Jurco, who represented Slovakia at the Sochi Games, but the Red Wings decided to send him to Grand Rapids where he’ll help the Griffins defend their 2013 Calder Cup championship in the AHL playoffs.
The Griffins have a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five opening-round series against the Abbotsford Heat. Game 3 is tonight in Grand Rapids.
Team USA asked Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to join the roster but his wife is expecting the couple’s second child soon. The same went for defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who turned down Sweden because of the recent birth of his son Douglas. And Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, who are overcoming injuries, will not play in Belarus.
In all, 22 players have been added to the U.S. roster, six from Michigan, including Phoenix forward Andy Miele (Grosse Pointe Woods), Edmonton defenseman Jeff Petry (Ann Arbor), Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba (Rochester), and Winnipeg goalie prospect Connor Hellebuyck (Commerce Township).
The 27-year-old Abdelkader is one of the older statesmen on the U.S. team. Only forward Colin McDonald (29), of the New York Islanders, is older than the Wings’ forward.
This will be Abdelkader’s third international tournament in seven years. He won a bronze medal at the 2007 World Junior Championship. He and Howard played together at the World Championship in 2012.
DeKeyser will make his international hockey debut.
Two groups of eight teams each will compete in a round-robin format among their group with the top four teams from each advancing to quarterfinals. NBC Sports Network will televise and stream all USA games beginning with the May 9 opener against the host team, Belarus, at 1:45 p.m. EDT.
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