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Red Wings Kubalik Looking Excitedly Ahead to World Championship; Vrana Left Off Team

Kubalik only Detroit player on Czechia roster

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Dominik Kubalik, Red Wings
Red Wings forward Dominik Kubalik will be suiting up for Czechia in the upcoming world championship.

When the harsh reality overcame him that he’d be a Stanley Cup outsider for the third straight season, Detroit Red Wings forward Dominik Kubalik first began to entertain notions about donning his country’s colors at the IIHF World Championship.

“When I started to feel that there wouldn’t be a playoff, you can say that I started to think about (it),” Kubalik told isport.blesk.cz. “Nothing happened to me, everything went well and I was able to connect.”

Kubalik is training with Czechia’s national team in preparation for the world tourney, which will be getting underway May 12 in Finland and Latvia. A 20-goal scorer this season, his first with Detroit, Kubalik will be playing in his fourth world tournament and first since 2021. He missed last season when Czechia won the bronze medal.

“I am happy to be here and I hope it will be with a good result,” Kubalik said. “The motivation is of course huge. We are just at the beginning and we still have the last tournament ahead of us, which is a warm-up for going there in the best possible mood.

“I believe that when everything falls into place, the result can be great again.”

Red Wings Kubalik Recharged And Ready For Worlds

While several players are opting to pass on the worlds following the long NHL campaign, Kubalik utilized his down time since the end of the NHL regular season to get away and recharge his batteries.

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“I have to say I’ve had enough,” Kubalik said of the grind of the NHL regular season. “That season is simply demanding, 81 games for me and we played maybe seventeen or eighteen games in the last month. It goes by quickly.

“I was glad to have some time to rest. My wife and I went away for a while and really switched off. It worked out, I trained and now I’m glad that I joined.”

Vrana Left Off Czechia Roster

One player who was part of last year’s medal-winning squad who won’t be back is former Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana. It was the decision of the coaching staff, headed by former NHLer Kari Jalonen, to leave Vrana out of the team.

Vrana endured through a difficult 2022-23 season. It included a stay in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance program, demotion from Detroit to AHL Grand Rapids and ultimately, a trade to the St. Louis Blues.

“As a hockey player, I like him,” Czechia GM and former NHLer Martin Havlat said during an online press conference with Czech journalists. “But the coaches have the final say.

“He has had a difficult season, during which he has gone through a lot of things. So the coaches decided to leave him space to sort out what he needs and prepare for the next season.”

Ales Volek, Vrana’s agent, indicated to isport.blesk.cz that his client was willing to suit up for his homeland.

“I spoke with (Vrana), he was ready to represent,” Volek said. “He is healthy, in St. Louis played very well, fit in well. But it’s always a question of the coaches’ interest.”