Seven Red Wings selected for six World Cup teams

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings' Dylan Larkin will play on Team North America, which is comprised of players age 23 and younger representing both the U.S. and Canada.

Detroit — Here’s another sign of Dylan Larkin’s arrival among the best players in hockey.

Larkin was named to Team North America Wednesday for the upcoming World Cup in September in Toronto.

Larkin joined teammates Justin Abdelkader (Team USA), Tomas Tatar (Team Europe), Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic), Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall (Sweden) as Red Wings who were chosen by their respective hockey federations.

Team North America will feature players age 23 and younger who are eligible to play for the U.S. or Canada.

“Pretty cool,” said Larkin of his inclusion on the North American team. “It’s a chance to play against the best players in the world, and with all young guys, guys who are in similar positions as yourself; it’s an exciting team to watch.”

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Larkin played for Team USA at last year’s world championships, and has played in the world junior championships.

Playing against Team USA, or against any of his Red Wings teammates, would be strange.

“A little bit, yeah, it would be weird,” Larkin said.

Tatar will be on a team comprising European players from outside Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Russia, at a later date.

Mrazek was thrilled to be able to represent his country and play in such a star-studded tournament.

“Very excited,” Mrazek said. “It’s going to be a great tournament, a lot of guys who know each other from some (NHL) teams. We play against each other in the (regular) season.

“It’ll be a fun tournament.”

NHL training camps will be compromised by the World Cup, as the league’s best players are off in Toronto competing in the tournament, but everyone in the league believes this is a huge positive overall.

“I’m sure there’s positives and negatives but it’s a great thing,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I just think to have the opportunity to have the best players in the world going against each other and playing for your country is a cool thing.

“Whenever it is it’s great, and we’ll plan accordingly.”

Big fan

Larkin was always a big Red Wings fan growing up in Waterford, but he was also a fan of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane.

Which made Wednesday’s game extra special for Larkin, who met Kane briefly in January during the All-Star Game.

“I liked how he came through the NDP (USA national development program, then in Ann Arbor) and went to the OHL (Ontario Hockey League),” said Larkin, of Kane’s career path. “He was a great player (at both places) and obviously has been a great player for Chicago and Team USA, as well.”

Kane is the leading candidate for this season’s Hart Trophy (most valuable player), leading the league with 85 points (36 goals, 49 assists).

Kane had an impressive 26-game point streak earlier this season.

Still, as much as he was a Kane fan, Larkin still pulled for the Red Wings.

“I was a big Patrick Kane fan so anytime Chicago was in the Stanley Cup I was pulling for them (because of Kane),” Larkin said. “But never against Detroit.”

Ice chips

Mrazek was to get the start in net Wednesday after missing Monday’s game with a groin injury.

“I’m good to go,” Mrazek said before the game. “(I) stretched my leg a little bit but it was a good one day off and I’m ready to go.”

... Wednesday night’s game was career game No. 900 for Henrik Zetterberg, joining teammate Pavel Datsyuk, who passed that milestone earlier this season.

“Both came into the league a little later than a lot of guys who’ve come into the league and I’d say they’ve been impact players the whole time,” Blashill said. “Both of them could have more points if they were players that cheated a little bit. But they’ve been two of the best two-way players in the world for a long, long time.”

Zetterberg, 35, went into Wednesday’s game leading the team in scoring with 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists).