The time for Nashville Predators training camp hasn’t arrived just yet, but regardless, hockey is back.
Forward Filip Forsberg, defensemen Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi, and goaltender Pekka Rinne are all representing their countries at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey this month, with Forsberg and Ekholm skating for Sweden, Rinne with Finland and Josi joining Team Europe in the eight-team tournament. Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton is also involved as a director of player personnel for Team North America, while Preds Assistant Coach Phil Housley is an assistant under John Tortorella and Team USA.
Practices are underway around the world at the respective team headquarters, with exhibition games set to begin tomorrow, featuring all four Preds representatives. Team Sweden faces Team Finland at 11 a.m. (CT) Thursday from Helsinki, a game that can be streamed on ESPN3. Josi and Team Europe then get together with Team North America Thursday evening in Quebec City on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
A handy schedule will all the World Cup games featuring Preds players can be seen here, as Saturday, Sept. 17 marks the beginning of group play, with the best-of-three final commencing on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Forsberg and Ekholm are joined by their fellow countrymen, including former Preds forward Patric Hornqvist on the Swedish roster, in addition to stars like Nicklas Backstrom, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Erik Karlsson and Henrik Lundqvist.
Rinne and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask give Finland an impressive duo in net, while Josi joins forces with the likes of Anze Kopitar, Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara.
After a slate of exhibition games at sites around the world, the tournament will converge on Toronto and the Air Canada Centre, where all World Cup games will be held.
Take a look below to see what the Preds stars are up to in preparations for the tournament, including a peek at Rinne’s new mask.