Dallas Stars Eriksson, Grossman, Wandell to Participate in World Championships

As most of you have heard and read elsewhere, Dallas Stars Nicklas Grossman, Tom Wandell and Loui Eriksson will all put on the yellow and blue of Sweden and represent their country in the IIHF World Championships start this Saturday in Austria. Or as some call it in the vernacular of college basketball, hockey's equivalent of the NIT.

The good news is that we might actually be able to watch these gentleman ply their craft in this alternate setting because Versus has announced they will carry as many as 11 games of the World Championships, though most of it will be United States centric coverage.

The USA team does not have any Dallas Stars on it's roster though they did attempt to woo Alex Goligoski, who declined citing health concerns. He and Jamie Benn both opted to rest in the off-season rather than represent their countries, though we expect that both will be in Russia to do just that when the Winter Games return in 2014.

Personally, I am a fan of all these guys resting in the off-season and avoiding any potential for injury like the plague, particularly Nick Grossman who just narrowly avoided a serious knee problem at the end of the season. Still it's nice to know he's healthy.

Tom Wandell, on the other hand, could benefit from some added experience and confidence this might give him.

The team USA roster is underwhelming at best, and the NHL playoffs will still be in full effect of course, so we're not sure what the point is, but games will be on in the A.M. here in Dallas, the first of which will be Saturday at 10:00 CDT. 

At any rate, more hockey is never a bad thing. USA and Sweden will be shown on Versus on May 4th. Time TBD.

Full press release from Versus after the jump...

Versus:

NEW YORK (April 27, 2011) - VERSUS will air at least eleven games during the 75th Annual Men's International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships, beginning on Saturday, April 30, at 10 a.m. ET when team USA faces off against Austria in the preliminary round live from Bratislava, Slovakia. This will mark the first time VERSUS will televise the round-robin tournament.

The network will air a substantial amount of the games throughout the 16-day tournament, including four preliminary- round games, at least three qualification-round games and at least one quarterfinal game. The network will air every game the U.S. team plays if they advance past the first round, but regardless of how far they go, VERSUS will also televise both semifinal games on May 13 and the Gold Medal contest on May 15.

VERSUS will also produce pre, intermission and post-game updates from the network's Stamford, Conn., studio, providing viewers with expert analysis of the games before, during and after the hockey action. Bill Pidto and Matt Loughlin will alternate as hosts for the studio show along with Zach Parise, current New Jersey Devils left winger and member of the U.S. Olympic Team that won the silver medal in Vancouver last February.
There are a total of 16 teams participating in the round-robin tournament which are placed in four groups to play in the preliminary round. The top three teams in each group will advance to the qualification round, while the last team in each group competes in the relegation round, where the top two teams will automatically qualify for the next year's World Championships. Preliminary round groups:

Group A (Bratislava): Russia, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia
Group B (Košice): Canada, Switzerland, Belarus, France
Group C (Košice): Sweden, United States, Norway, Austria
Group D (Bratislava): Finland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Denmark

VERSUS' preliminary round coverage of the 2011 World Championships is as follows (all times ET, subject to change):

Saturday, April 30 USA-Austria (Live) 10 a.m.
Monday, May 2 USA-Norway (Live) 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 3 Canada-Switzerland TBD
Wednesday, May 4 USA-Sweden TBD

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