Every hockey season, the World Hockey Championships represent an opportunity for NHL players to represent their country, keep their season going, and maybe shake off some of the frustration of not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ottawa Senators haven’t made the postseason since 2017, so they’ve had ample opportunities to show up for their country. And show up they have. But as Canada opens Friday against host Latvia, a team that shocked Canada in the opener two years ago, you may notice a couple of things.
First of all, Latvian hockey fans are amazing. And secondly, the 2023 tournament will mark the first time since 2017 that Team Canada won’t have a single Senator player on its roster. Head coach D.J. Smith is back as an assistant coach, but player-wise, this year marks the end of an impressive Team Canada streak for the Sens.
2022 World Championships: Thomas Chabot, Drake Batherson, Nick Holden
This trio helped Canada to a silver medal last year, falling in overtime to Finland in the final. Chabot was Canada’s captain and Batherson had a memorable tournament, finishing second overall in scoring and helping Canada come back from the dead in the quarterfinals. Down 3-0 to Sweden in the third period, Batherson set up the tying goal then scored the winner in overtime for a 4-3 victory.
Both Batherson and Chabot would have made fine targets for this year’s national squad, but Chabot is still recovering from a wrist injury. Batherson probably would have played but is currently ineligible. He’s one of the 22 players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior team who won’t be allowed to compete in international play until further notice. Five players from that team are being investigated in connection with an alleged sexual assault. No charges have been filed, but Hockey Canada has opted to bench all 22 players until things get sorted out.
“I definitely would’ve been interested,” Batherson said. “But obviously with what happened with my World Junior team, we’re not eligible to go this year because of the ongoing investigation. But if I ever get that opportunity to represent Team Canada again, I would absolutely go. I had an absolute blast, meeting new teammates, playing in different countries, it was awesome. Especially last year being in Finland, that was kind of cool going over to Europe.”
2021 World Championships: Connor Brown, Nick Paul, Jacob Bernard-Docker
For a powerhouse like Canada, the 2021 tourney got off to the worst start imaginable. The team lost its first three games to Latvia, the U.S. and Germany. And then they fell again to Finland on the final day of the preliminary round. Canada actually needed help elsewhere to squeeze into the knockout round, where they suddenly got off the mat and began throwing haymakers.
Canada clawed all the way back from oblivion and Brown led the entire tournament in scoring. In the final, Brown set up his Senator teammate for the golden goal, one of the most memorable goals in the tournament’s history.
2019 World Championships: Thomas Chabot, Mark Stone*
Due to the tournament’s cancellation in 2020, we skip to the 2019 event, where Chabot and Mark Stone helped Canada to a silver medal, falling to Finland in the gold medal game. In complete contrast to the sluggish 2021 start, Canada went 6-1 in preliminary play. Unfortunately, the tournament began and ended with a 3-1 loss to the Finns.
* Stone was actually traded to the Vegas Golden Knights three months earlier. But the breakup was still so fresh that Senators fans still cheered him as one of their own, especially when he scored in overtime to keep Canada alive, en route to being MVP of the tournament.
Former Senator Kyle Turris was also pretty solid in 2019 with 10 points in 10 games.
2018 World Championships: Thomas Chabot, J.G Pageau
The official mascot of this tournament was apparently inspired by the Danish fairy tale the Ugly Duckling. And with a fourth place finish, this tournament was Canada’s ugly duckling from this time frame. Chabot and Pageau played in all ten games for Canada, which came up short in the bronze medal game, falling 4-1 to the Americans.
For Pageau, it was a slightly different springtime experience from the one he’d enjoyed a year earlier. It may not be on topic, but a video review of JGP’s four goal night in the 2017 playoffs is surely welcome anywhere.
Ottawa isn’t without its ties to Team Canada this year. Former 67 Tyler Toffoli will captain this year’s squad. Defenceman Mackenzie Weegar and forward Jack Quinn, both from Ottawa, should also have meaningful roles with the club.
Friday, May 12, 2023: Latvia vs. Canada, 1pm, TSN1
Sunday, May 14, 2023: Slovenia vs. Canada 5am, TSN1
Monday, May 15, 2023: Slovakia vs. Canada 9am, TSN1
See the full broadcast schedule here.