Quite a few members from the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing hockey this May, but it won't be in the NHL.
Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, netminder James Reimer and defenceman Luke Schenn all confirmed today that they will play for Canada at the world championships, which begin later this month in Slovakia.
Winger Clarke MacArthur is a bubble candidate to make the team, which is being helmed by Leafs executive Dave Nonis and expected to be announced in the next week.
"It's always exciting to represent your country and play for Team Canada," Schenn said. "I've had great experiences playing with Hockey Canada."
"It's an honour to be invited," Phaneuf said. "The last time I was there, it was in Moscow and we won, so it was a lot of fun to be a part of that tournament and I'm looking forward to going over there and trying to win a gold medal."
The three or four members of Team Canada will face several of their teammates in the tournament, as Mike Brown and Mike Komisarek are expected to play for the U.S., Mikhail Grabovski for Belarus and Nikolai Kulemin for Russia.
The Leafs' three Swedes - Freddy Sjostrom, Carl Gunnarsson and Jonas Gustavsson - may also get the call.
One player who won't be going, however, is Phil Kessel, who declined an invitation to play for Team USA, which will be run by a group of eight executives that includes Leafs GM Brian Burke.
"I'm just going to take a break," Kessel said. "It's been a long year, a grind. Obviously I love playing for my country, I've played in three worlds, so I'm just going to take a break, relax, go home and take a couple weeks off. Then start training again, get ready for next year.
"This year I'm kind of worn out. It's been a long year. A lot of ups and downs. Obviously in the end, we were trying to fight for the playoffs, a big push. Just tired."
Kessel will have plenty of time to rest. NHL training camps don't open until Sept. 16, which is a little more than five months away.
The Leafs had their exit interviews with team staff and cleaned out their Air Canada Centre lockers today, two days after their final game of the season, a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Toronto finished with 85 points and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, an improvement over last season's 74 points and 15th-place finish but still eight points back of the final playoff spot.
I'll have more later on what was said today, but below is audio from Leafs coach Ron Wilson and a few members of the Leafs reflecting on the season and looking ahead to next year.