Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno was certainly a surprise choice to play for Canada at the IIHF World Championship. When the Canadian roster was introduced Friday, it also was ending the suspense of where Red Wings defenseman Jake Walman would be playing his international hockey.
The son of an American mother and Canadian father, Walman was eligible to play for either nation. But he’s opting to suit up for his nation of birth. Walman is playing for Canada.
Walman and Veleno are being joined in the Canadian contingent by Red Wings assistant coach Alex Tanguay, who’s filling a similar role for Canada, and Detroit GM Steve Yzerman, who is working as an assistant GM to Doug Armstrong.
There’s a familiarity in place for Veleno in regards to the Canadian coaching staff.
“Me and Tangs obviously have a pretty good relationship,” Veleno said. “We speak to each other mostly every day in the season. To have him there it’s gonna help, just to be comfortable with him and knowing what kind of person he is and he knows what kind of player I am, kind of my style of game. That definitely helps a lot.
“Even Andre (Tourigny) being the head coach. He coached me at the World Juniors the year we won gold. He was our assistant coach, took care of the penalty kill and the defense over there. It obviously helps, those two guys that I’m pretty familiar with to have over there behind the bench.”
Seven Red Wings At Worlds
The announcement of the Canadian squad brings to seven the number of Red Wings players who will be taking part when the world tourney gets underway May 12 in Finland and Latvia.
Defenseman Olli Maatta will be playing for Finland. Sweden’s roster is including forwards Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren. Forward Dominik Kubalik is with Czechia, while top Detroit forward prospect Carter Mazur will play for the USA.
As well, Wings head coach Derek Lalonde is serving as an assistant coach to David Quinn for the US squad.
There’s also a few former Red Wings and players with Detroit connections populating rosters. Forward Jacob de la Rose, the player Yzerman dealt to St. Louis for Robby Fabbri, is on Sweden’s roster. Joren van Pottelberghe, a 2015 Red Wings draftee, is one of Switzerland’s goalies.