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World Cup

World Cup has Red Wings forwards eager to compete

Justin Abdelkader ready to agitate for Team USA; Dylan Larkin to play with old friends for North America

by Paul Harris / NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- Detroit Red Wings forwards Justin Abdelkader and Dylan Larkin are eagerly anticipating playing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which will run Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Abdelkader will play for Team USA, and Larkin will play for Team North America, which will feature the top players 23 and under from Canada and the United States.

"It's going to be amazing," Abdelkader said Thursday after he and Larkin rode along with members of the Breitling Jet Team, a France-based acrobatic display team, in L-396C Albatros twin-seat jets at Willow Run Airport in Belleville, Mich. "Great for our league and great for the countries involved."

"I'm really excited," Larkin said. "It's a great way to add a little bit to this part of the summer."

Abdelkader said he has not spoken to Team USA coach John Tortorella about the tournament, but he figures he knows what his role will be on the team.

"Most likely it will be in a checking-line role and likely playing some penalty kill," said Abdelkader, 29, who had 19 goals, 42 points and an NHL career-high 120 penalty minutes in 82 games with the Red Wings last season.

Abdelkader said he's looking forward to having a few players, in particular, as teammates.

"I had a good time playing golf with [Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon] Dubinsky when I was in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago," Abdelkader said. "[New York Rangers center Derek] Stepan, and even [Tampa Bay Lighting goaltender] Ben Bishop, just matching ideas with guys you don't normally play with."

Larkin, who turned 20 on July 30, led the Red Wings with 23 goals, had 45 points and was plus-11 as a rookie last season.

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"It's cool and will be fun having players from both the U.S. and Canada," Larkin said. "Coming together for this will be a fun process … we're just excited to get together and start playing games."

Larkin is looking forward to spending time with some old friends, including Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, who was Larkin's teammate with the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2012-14.

"Especially to play with Jack again and [Winnipeg Jets goalie] Connor Hellebuyck, who was always in and out of my home arena in Lakeland [Mich.], when I was growing up," Larkin said.

Larkin also is looking forward to playing with Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba, who, like Larkin, played at the University of Michigan, and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid.

Each thoroughly enjoyed the ridealong experience with the Breitling Jet Team.

"Oh, my God, we had a great time," Abdelkader said when he stepped out of the plane.

Seven L-396C Albatros jets flew for about 20 minutes, flying in formation and doing stunts.

Abdelkader previously flew with the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's flight demonstration squad.

Larkin said he had his doubts about the flight.

"It was a lot of fun," Larkin said. " … I got to do a barrel roll myself. [The pilot] let me take the controls. It's harder than it looks."

He added that the jets flew over the house of his billet family when he played for the USNTDP in Ann Arbor.

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