Tomas Tatar took off late this past week for his native Slovakia, where he'll train before heading to Belarus to compete in the World Championship.
The experience -- Tatar's second time already this year representing Slovakia -- should only help Tatar, who is coming off a disappointing NHL playoff debut. He had no points through the Red Wings' five games against Boston.
"I can be stronger, quicker, maybe more work on my shot," Tatar said. "There is lots for me to work on to be the player I want to be at a certain level. There is a lot of work ahead, and it's going to be a long summer."
The tournament runs May 9-25 in Minsk, Belarus. Tatar is bound to see some of his Wings teammates, as Danny DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader both have committed to play for Team USA, and Gustav Nyquist is representing Sweden. Defenseman Jakub Kindl is on the Czech squad.
Tatar, 23, had an excellent regular season, producing 19 goals and 20 assists in 73 games. He was a healthy scratch most of October, but once he got into the lineup, he made up for his smaller stature with a hard-nosed style. He thrived as his minutes grew thanks to a lineup that at times missed several key forwards.
"I was hoping it would be my turn and I just had to wait," Tatar said. "The year flew by really fast and things were changing, big-time. I can look back and say it was great experience for me and I'm really happy we made it to the playoffs, but disappointed we didn't make it further."
Tatar starred for Slovakia at February's Sochi Olympics, where he was one of the team's best players before its quarterfinal elimination.
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