Hockey players

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a big thank-you gift for their loyal fans: The world’s greatest hockey players are coming to town. And you have three chances to see them, including a match-up between Team USA and Team Canada.

Kane. Pavelski. Parise. Backes.

These Team USA superstars will all be in Columbus.

Team USA will hold its training camp at Nationwide Arena, September 5 - 9 as they prepare for the 3rdWorld Cup of Hockey. The practices on September 7 and 8 at 11 a.m., are open to the public. And free. Team USA and Canada play an exhibition game on September 9 at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. About 15,000 tickets have already been sold for this rivalry. Click here for ticket information.

Crosby. Stamkos. Seguin. Toews.

These Team Canada superstars will be here on September 9.

“Our fan support over the years has been phenomenal,” said Todd Sharrock, the Blue Jackets Vice President of Public Relations. “And this is a great event for them.”

It’s also another great way for the NHL – and the world – to see that Columbus is a great host city and sports town.

“We hosted Team USA’s training camp back in 2004 (before the last World Cup of Hockey), we had the draft here in 2007 and the All-Star Game here in 2015 and the feedback we got was fantastic,” Sharrock said. The proximity of several full-service and modern hotels and scores of restaurants to Nationwide Arena makes hosting big events here a logistical walk in the park – or, a quick walk past McFerson Park – for players and teams. And fans.

“And, our facility is still one of the best in the world, and one of only two arenas where the practice facility is connected to the arena,” Sharrock said. “All of these factors made it a pretty easy decision for them and we’re thrilled to get another chance to shine a light on Columbus.”

The Blue Jackets are also excited that six members of the team will be playing in the World Cup of Hockey: Brandon Dubinksy and Jack Johnson for Team USA; Sergei Bobrovsky for Russia; and Brandon Saad, Seth Jones and Ryan Murray for Team North America, which consists of the top 23-and-under players from the U.S. and Canada. Many hockey experts believe Boone Jenner should also have been on Team North America.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is the coach of Team USA and Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is the assistant GM of Team Sweden.

“Our fingerprints are all over the World Cup,” Sharrock said, adding all this young talent and the team’s top minor-league team, the Lake Erie Monsters, winning the most recent AHL title are signs that point to an exciting and successful 2016-17 season.

The World Cup of Hockey will be held September 17 to October 1 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The eight participating teams are: Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Finland, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team USA, Team Europe and Team North America. Team Europe is comprised of the top players from European countries other than the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.

And, because the World Cup games will be played before the start of the NHL season, all the world’s top players are available and will participate.

The United States won the inaugural World Cup in 1996, Canada won the most recent World Cup in 2004.

Team USA and Team Canada are in the same, four-team bracket along with Team Czech Republic and Team Europe. Only two teams advance and, because of this, Sharrock believes the pre-tournament game here between these two rivals will be intense, fast-paced and exciting. You know, like every other time these teams meet!

“Any time these two teams play it’s crazy,” Sharrock said. “And, being in the same bracket, they’re both really going to want to set the tone for the tournament in this game.”

Sharrock said the hockey world is also intrigued by Team North America.

“You have all these dynamic young players, including three Blue Jackets,” he said. Some of the other young guns include Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews.

OK, here’s the bottom line: this is going to be exciting. So, plan to attend a practice, and get your tickets to the September 9 Team USA and Team Canada game. And you better get them soon.

“We anticipate it will be sold out,” Sharrock said.