When the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Men's World Championship tournament gets underway Friday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Lightning fans will see familiar faces both on the ice and behind the bench.
As the preliminary rosters are finalized, Tampa Bay has five players and five staff members representing four different countries. Most notably, all five staff members and Lightning center Jeff Halpern will sport the red, white and blue as they represent Team USA. Right wing Martin St. Louis
will play for his native Canada, left wing Jussi Jokinen and goaltender Karri Ramo will represent Finland and defenseman Filip Kuba will play for the Czech Republic. Left wing Evgeny Artyukhin, who played for the Lightning in 2005-06 and with whom the team is currently negotiating, was on a preliminary roster for Russia but didn’t make the cut.
Halpern , from Potomac, MD, was named captain of Team USA on Monday and will lead a solid offensive group filled with young superstars such as Patrick Kane, from Chicago, and New Jersey's Zach Parise. Despite the poor tournament history for the U.S., the team seems to be stronger than ever and ready to vie for a medal. In the team's only pre-tournament exhibition match, they handed Sweden a 5-1 defeat.
"I like our team," Halpern told USA Today. "I think anything less than a gold would be a disappointment."
Leading Team USA from behind the bench is Lightning head coach John Tortorella. He is being assisted by Lightning assistant coach, Mike Sullivan. Nigel Kirwan, Tampa Bay's video coach, Ray Thill, Lightning equipment manager and Tom Mulligan, head athletic trainer, are all on the supporting staff for Team USA.
The tournament begins May 2 with the gold-medal game being played May 18. In a notable match-up, Team USA plays Team Canada Tuesday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m. The game will air on TSN. All tournament games can be seen on WCSN.com.
Check back for updates on Lightning players and staff as the tournament progresses.