– According to USAHockey.com, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader
has been named captain of the U.S. national team that will compete in this month’s International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.
The 27-year-old Abdelkader, who grew up in Muskegon, Mich., is the fourth Red Wings player to be named captain of his national team in the last two international men’s tournaments. Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden) and Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) were named team captains prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February. Niklas Kronwall replaced Zetterberg as Sweden’s captain when he pulled out of the tournament with lower back pain which required surgery.
Team USA opens the World Championship today against the host nation, Belarus, at 1:45 p.m. EDT. NBC Sports Network will televise the game live, while NBC Sports Live Extra will provide live streaming coverage.
For Abdelkader, this will be his third international tournament with the Americans. He played in the 2012 IIHF World Championship in Helsinki and Stockholm, where he produced a goal and three assists. He also skated in the 2007 World Junior Championship, helping the U.S. earn bronze in Sweden.
“It’s a tremendous honor, really excited about leading this team and being captain,” Abdelkader told USAHockey.com. “We got a lot of good leaders in this room and a lot of good players. We’re a little young but I think we’re really hungry and we’re looking forward to the start of this tournament.”
Nashville forward Craig Smith will serve as an alternate captain, while the second alternate captain role will be shared between New York Islanders forward Colin McDonald and former NHL forward Tim Stapleton, who played the past two seasons in the KHL.
Abdelkader and Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser are among seven Michigan natives that make up the 25-man U.S. roster.