On May 5, the top hockey nations in the world will gather in Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France for the IIHF World Championship. Scattered on the roster will be several members of the Colorado Avalanche.
Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyson Barrie and Calvin Pickard will play for Canada. J.T. Compher is set to suit up for Team USA. Mikko Rantanen will take the ice for Finland. Gabriel Landeskog, who will play for Sweden, talked about why it’s so important to him to represent his country.
“It’s a huge honor,” Landeskog told Mile High Sports. “You grow up, and yeah you dream about winning the Stanley Cup, but coming from Sweden, it’s a big dream to win the World Championships and win the Olympics as well; and to be able to put that jersey on just in itself. That’s a big honor. [The] Stanley Cup is still the ultimate goal, but playing for Team Sweden, every time you put that jersey on, it sure means a lot.”
This could be these players’ last chance to represent their country for awhile. The NHL announced that it doesn’t intend to send players to the 2018 Olympics. When that announcement was made, players expressed many emotions: anger, disappointment, melancholy acceptance. Duchene expressed hope. With a little more time to reflect on the situation, many Avalanche players echoed his sentiment.
“I still think there’s some room to negotiate and hopefully we can figure it out,” MacKinnon told Mile High Sports. “It’s good for our game. It’s tough to see what’s going on. Everybody I’ve talked to, they want to go, including myself if I’m fortunate enough to make the team. We all want to go, for sure.”
Landeskog feels the same way. Having played in the Olympics once previously, he’d like to have the chance to represent his country on the absolute biggest stage again next February.
“I sure hope so,” said the Avalanche captain. “Just because they do the press conference, I don’t think that means that that’s the end of that. I think it’s disappointing news, but I think they’ll figure it out and let us go.”
Until the time comes when the oft-stubborn NHL changes their mind (if it comes at all), the World Championships will have to suffice. There’s a chance he won’t be the only Avalanche on Sweden’s roster. Carl Soderberg confirmed to Mile High Sports that he had spoken with Tre Kroner’s brass, but would not say whether or not he was going to play. Rookie Anton Lindholm, who played last year, has not heard from Sweden, but hopes to.