The parade of last-minute exits from the World Cup of Hockey continued heading into the weekend as two more NHL players withdrew from the tournament. Boston Bruins forward David Krejci who was due to represent the Czech Republic, and Calgary Flames forward Sean Monahan who was slated to play for Team North America, will no longer be participating in the tournament.
According to reports from the Czech Republic, Krejci has not yet fully recovered from offseason hip surgery. The Flames announced Friday that Monahan sustained a back strain during offseason training.
Vincent Trocheck of the Florida Panthers will be replacing Monahan, while the Czech Republic named former NHLer Roman Cervenka as Krejci’s sub.
For the Czechs, losing Krejci is a devastating blow to already slim chances of winning the tournament. The top of their lineup just didn’t match up well with other participants, but they’re even worse off without Krejci. Jaromir Jagr, who led all Czech players in points in the NHL last year, declined offers to play before the team was even named. It’s an uphill battle for an offense that is going to be light on scoring talent.
Meanwhile, losing Monahan is not ideal for North America. The fact that Monahan and Flames teammate Johnny Gaudreau have built-in chemistry would have been an asset to Team North America. Trocheck is a solid addition, however. He had his breakout season last year with the Panthers, scoring 25 goals and putting up 53 points. While many wondered why 30-goal scorer Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens didn’t get a call, Trocheck may be a better fit for the high-speed offense Team North America is going to be relying so heavily on in the tournament.
As we’ve seen, over the last few days in particular, more and more players have dropped out of the tournament. It hasn’t been a mass exodus, but nine replacements have been named over the last two weeks and there may be a few more before players report to training camps Sunday.
Most of the pre-tournament exits have come due to players coming off of injuries they’d been dealing with all summer and just wanting a few extra weeks of rehab. It’d be interesting to see how many of these players are in their NHL training camps on time.
What we won’t know, however, is what would have happened if this was a bigger tournament, like… say… the Olympics. Players may have been a lot more willing to take on some extra risk if it was for something like that. It’s purely speculation, of course, and many of these players may have legitimate concerns about rushing back from injury. They’re being cautious, which is just being smart as they’re biggest responsibility lies with their NHL clubs, i.e. the organization that pays them.
And even with the frequent exits over the last few weeks, the World Cup is still loaded with stars. Now we’ll find out how serious the players take it when the puck drops on the tournament in two weeks.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / World Cup of Hockey: Bruins’ Krejci, Flames’ Monahan latest to drop out