Early this morning, the preliminary rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey began to be announced starting with Teams Russia and Finland. Among the players named to the Finnish team was Toronto Maple Leaf Leo Komarov. After being a big part of Finland’s bronze medal-winning team from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it was no surprise that the Toronto fan favorite was named as one of the initial 14 players.
In the first best-on-best international tournament since Teemu Selanne retired, Team Finland will be led by guys like Mikko Koivu, Sasha Barkov, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Tuukka Rask but as he showed in the Olympics, Leo will be a key part of any success Finland hopes to have at the World Cup. An alternate captain for the Olympic team, Komarov has been a mainstay on Finnish rosters appearing in an amazing 47 World Championship games for his home country. While only producing 11 points in those 47 games and none in the Olympics, fans in Toronto know exactly whey Komarov was added to the roster. He brings a style of game that is necessary for teams to be successful at any level. Komarov is likely to lineup in the team’s bottom-6 and kill penalties for a Finland team that should have enough fire power that he won’t be expected to be more than a depth offensive option.
As a former captain of his country’s World Junior team and an alternate three times since then, Leo will provide leadership to a Finnish team that hopes to prove they deserve to be more than the afterthought they have become as we prepare for the first World Cup since 2004.
The man was born in Estonian to Russian parents and will wear a Finnish flag in front of his hometown fans in Toronto next September. If nothing else, Leo will keep things interesting for Maple Leaf fans through some games that Team Canada isn’t involved in and if he plays like he has this season, my bet is that Finland will quickly become the second favorite team for man Torontonians.
Here is a look at the first 16 players named to Team Finland:
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 2, 2016