|Senators forward Dany Heatley is Team Canada's all-time leading scorer at the IIHF World Hockey Championship. He'll get the chance to add to his totals when the 2009 tournament begins Friday in Switzerland (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).
They spent an entire National Hockey League season united behind the same cause.
But for two weeks, at least, friends will become friendly rivals at the 2009 IIHF World Championship, which begins Friday in Bern and Zurich-Kloten, Switzerland.
Nine Ottawa Senators players will take part in the tournament, along with a pair of the organization’s prospects. They’re scattered among the rosters of seven of the 16 teams that will face off in the global competition, the last of its kind to be held before the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Team Canada, the defending silver medallist in the event, brings a roster to Switzerland that includes four Senators – centres Jason Spezza
and Mike Fisher, forward Dany Heatley and defenceman Chris Phillips
. Heatley was named the competition’s most valuable player a year ago, when the tournament was held in Quebec City and Halifax, and is Canada’s all-time leading scorer at the hockey worlds.
“It’s always a great honour and a great opportunity to play for Canada,” said Heatley, who’ll wear the red maple leaf for the sixth time at this event. “I’ve always enjoyed that tournament and it should be a good time again.”(Thursday update: Heatley and Phillips have both been named alternate captains for Team Canada along with Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes will wear the captain's 'C'
Canada’s support staff in Switzerland includes athletic therapist Gerry Townend, Dr. Don Chow and Dr. Marc Aubry of the Senators.
Ottawa forwards Nick Foligno
and Ryan Shannon will suit up for the United States at the 2009 worlds, where forward Jarkko Ruutu (Finland) and defencemen Anton Volchenkov (Russia) and Christoph Schubert (Germany) are also slated to represent their respective countries along with Senators prospects Peter Regin
(Denmark) and Roman Wick (Switzerland).
Volchenkov and Schubert will cross paths during the preliminary round in Group B, which also includes Switzerland and France, while Ruutu and Regin face off in Group D along with the Czech Republic and Norway.
Group A includes Canada, Slovakia, Belarus and Hungary, while the U.S. is part of Group C along with Sweden, Latvia and Austria.
The preliminary round begins Friday and runs through April 29, with the top three in each group moving on to the qualifying round, which begins April 30. From there, the top four in each of two groups advance to quarter-finals on May 6 and 7. The semifinals are set for May 8, with the medal games to be played two days later.
Foligno, for one, is hoping for a Canada-U.S. matchup at some point.
“It’ll be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to face off against Spezz, Heater and Philly,” said Foligno, who is making his world championship debut. “It’ll be neat to play in that kind of atmosphere for a country. It’ll be a lot different but a lot of fun.”
TSN and RDS will broadcast all of Team Canada’s games
at the 2009 worlds, along with the quarter-finals, semifinals and medal games. Online game coverage is also available at http://www.iihf.com/
.For a complete 2009 world hockey championship schedule, click here.