In the world of hockey, there are a handful of elite international tournaments that showcase some of the top players from across the globe.
One of those events – the 2016 IIHF World Championships – begins later this week and will feature several Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno will represent the United States, and forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Ryan Murray will both represent Canada in the tournament. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to be Russia's go-to guy in goal, and Alexander Wennberg will play for his home country of Sweden.
John Davidson, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, said approximately 12 players within the organization were asked to play for their respective countries in the tournament, which runs May 6-22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
While Davidson said he has been happy to receive calls about players and has encouraged guys to play in the tournament, the Blue Jackets’ boss said it’s a catch-22 because receiving the phone calls means that your team either didn’t make the Stanley Cup playoffs or was knocked out early.
“I look at it as: ‘geez, I hope you go. If you don’t, (then) have a good reason,’" Davidson said. “But these are big games. You’re playing pressured games. We need our people to play in pressured games.”
Foligno was among the first 13 players selected by USA Hockey last month.
“I’m going to miss my family for three weeks, but I’m looking forward to (the tournament),” Foligno said.
The 28-year-old has represented the United States at two prior international tournaments, participating in the 2009 and 2010 IIHF World Championships.
The Buffalo native scored 12 goals and added 25 assists for 37 points with 53 penalty minutes in 72 games played for the Columbus this season.
Jenner and Murray were among the first 18 players selected to represent Canada at the tournament.
“It’s definitely special,” Jenner said of playing in the tournament. “Anytime you get to represent your country in a tournament like that with such great players and doing it over in Russia, it’s such a cool experience and I’m looking forward to it.”
In this third NHL season, Jenner set a new career high with 30 goals and 49 points in 2015-16.
The 22-year-old finished second on Columbus in goals and power play goals (nine) and tied third in total points, and was one of three Jackets to play in all 82 games (Murray, Gregory Campbell) - a stat not to be overlooked, as Jenner battled through two significant injuries last season that caused him to miss 51 games.
Jenner has suited up for Canada at three prior international tournaments. He participated at the 2012 (bronze) and 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships as well as the 2011 U18 Junior World Cup.
Alongside Jenner, Murray will be representing Canada in what will be his fifth international tournament.
The 22-year-old became the second-youngest player to represent Hockey Canada at the IIHF World Championships after playing in the 2012 tournament and has participated in the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships (bronze), the 2011 World Under-18 Junior Championships and the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Murray was also among the first 16 players selected to represent Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Columbus’ first pick (2nd overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, Murray was tied for second among club defensemen in assists and points, setting career highs in both categories as well as penalty minutes and games played with 4-21-25 and 40 penalty minutes in 82 games.