CALGARY, AB -- The Calgary Flames will have at least two players heading off to the 2013 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships in May as TJ Brodie will man the blueline for Canada while Chris Butler will suit up for the USA.
Forward Lee Stempniak was asked to play for the USA but can not attend due to a family obligation.
This will be Brodie's first time representing his country at an international event and the 22 year-old is thrilled to have the chance to play for Canada. The invite comes after the blueliner put together a career-year with the Flames, potting two goals and 12 points over the span of 47 games and becoming a dominant force on the back-end. By the end of the year, he was logging well over 20:00 a night on a regular basis and the coaching staff wasn't afraid to throw him out there in any situation.
"Obviously it’s exciting to get the opportunity to get asked to go over," was his response when asked about the invite. "I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun time and a good experience."
The Chatham, ON native has some experience playing on larger ice surfaces like the ones used at the World Championships and having a more open, two-way game is something that will likely benefit the smooth-skating rearguard.
"It’s fun playing on the big ice," he said. "(In) junior, there’s a couple rinks with it. It’s always fun. There’s some extra time and space. It’s a different game."
This will be Butler's third time playing for USA Hockey. His most recent international tournament came last spring when he jetted overseas to play for the Americans in the 2012 World Championships.
"It's an honour," he said in his exit interview on Sunday morning. "This tournament means so much to different countries and I think it's starting to get bigger in the States. I think they've done a good job getting coverage there and growing USA hockey."
Sven Baertschi was likely a lock for Switzerland but a groin injury has derailed his plans to play for his country at the tournament. He suffered the malady in Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators and it worsened on Thursday in St. Louis. While he is disappointed it will hinder him from joining the Swiss team, he realizes the injury needs time to heal.
"It was a decision that we all made together ... it doesn't make sense for me because it's an injury that if you keep skating and keep doing things out there, it's just getting worse and takes away way too much time from my summer," he said. "I wish I could get on that plane tomorrow and play for Switzerland but it's not the way it worked out. I just have to deal with it."
Pivot Mikael Backlund has been asked to play for Sweden but he has yet to make a decision. He will consult with the team's medical staff tomorrow to determine whether or not he is healthy enough to play for the Swedes.
"I'd like to go but just have to see how the body feels," he explained. "We're going to go through some things tomorrow and if I'm cleared and good to go for that, then yeah, I'll be heading over."
Jiri Hudler is a probable candidate for the Czech Republic's roster. Roman Cervenka would have also likely been in the conversation but suffered a grade one MCL sprain in Chicago on Friday.
The 2013 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships takes place May 3 to May 19. TSN is broadcasting the tournament.