Players are always honored to represent their country in the annual World Hockey Championships, which take place shortly after the National Hockey League season ends. But participating means one’s NHL season ended prior to the start of the conference finals.
However, it’s still a nice consolation for many players to play for their country at the highest level.
Four Sharks will head to Canada to do just that. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will play for Russia, defenseman Douglas Murray
will skate for Sweden and center Marcel Goc and goaltender Dimitri Patzold will represent Germany.
Nabokov was named to the 2006 Russian Olympic team, but this will mark his first appearance at the World Championships.
“I’m leaving Thursday,” Nabokov said two days after that memorable quadruple overtime Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Dallas. “I feel fine and you only need 24 hours to recover. I think it’s a privilege to play for your country.”
Murray will represent Sweden in international play for the first time since coming to North America.
“Obviously it’s an honor to play for them,” Murray said. “It’s with mixed emotions, but hopefully it will help heal the wounds.”
A prime reason for Murray’s selection by Sweden was because he cracked San Jose’s regular defensive rotation in his third NHL season.
“I’m happy with the strides I made,” he said. “You always want to get better and I can do a lot more to help this team.”
Goc is a regular for Germany and is more than happy to play in more high level hockey games.
“I think it’s a privilege to play for your country,” Goc said. “All the guys would rather be competing for the Cup, but it is what it is now.”
This year’s World Hockey Championships are being played in two Canadian cities: Halifax, Nova Scotia and Quebec City, Quebec. Preliminary games began last Friday.
All four Sharks players will arrive in time for the qualifying games that begin on May 8. For updates on their performances, CRASH THE NET at sjsharks.com through the gold medal game on May 18.