Richard Panik will not play for Slovakia at the 2017 World Championship because he doesn’t want to risk being injured while being a restricted free agent, the forward said during a media scrum Saturday at United Center.
Panik, 26, will be a restricted free agent after his second season with Chicago. The 6-foot-2 forward set career highs during the 2016-17 season, his first full season in Chicago, with 22 goals and 44 points. He played on the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and fellow countrymen Marian Hossa, but also saw time on the third line. Panik’s future with Chicago isn’t clear, so it makes sense that he’s erring on the side of caution in case another team wants to sign him.
Richard Panik on contract status: "I would like to stay here."#Blackhawks— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) April 22, 2017
Hossa will also not play at Worlds, but his reasoning wasn’t just to rest up from any nagging injuries or avoid a new one.
Marian Hossa will not play for Team Slovakia in World Championship.— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) April 22, 2017
"Let the young kids play."#Blackhawks
Hossa is the most successful Slovak currently playing in the NHL. He’s second in goal scored behind Stan Mikita and third points and assists. Only Mikita and Peter Stastny have more. Hossa hasn’t played for Slovakia since the 2011 Worlds. He did represent Slovakia on Team Europe for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where he scored one goal as the Europeans took silver.
The World Championships will be played from May 5 to 21 in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France. Group A games will be played at Lanxess Arena (18,500 capacity) in Cologne, while Group B will be at AccorHotels Arena (15,000 capacity).