The NHL will allow its players to participate in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and speculation is in high gear as to who will be competing for their respective countries and in turn, subjecting themselves to additional playing time, fatigue, and injury while the rest of their pro teammates are resting over that 2 week (or so) period in February. The Blues have 11 potential candidates for playing in the Olympics and they include some of the major names on their roster.
Numerous sources have been reporting via Twitter today that Alex Pietrangelo and fellow blueliner Jay Bouwmeester have been invited to Team Canada’s camp. We’ve also hear that Vladimir Tarasenko has been added to Russia’s pre-games roster. Right there you have three of the biggest pieces of the St. Louis Blues and we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Other potentials include: David Backes (USA,) Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund (Sweden,) and possibly TJ Oshie (USA.) Additionally, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (USA,) and Roman Polak (Czech Republic,) are likely to be invited and it’s possible we could see goaltender Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia,) playing as well.
That’s (possibly) a large contingent to Sochi from our Blues, and that’s not even counting Coach Hitchcock who was named as Assistant Coach (Canada) AND GM Doug Armstrong, also named to a part of the Canadian staff (Players/Personnel.) While much of the NHL is resting, maybe recuperating for those 2 weeks in February (18 days for the Blues) all of the aforementioned will be quite busy, halfway across the globe.
Not everyone invited will end up playing but I’d be very surprised if guys turned down the chance. It’s a pretty big deal to play for your country, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettmann is on record stating:
“The National Hockey League features the most international player population in professional sports, and our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage.”
I’m not against the NHL participating in the Olympics, but after the lockout-shortened season last year, I probably would’ve been okay had they opted out. Hopefully the 2 week layoff (or busy schedule, as the case will be for many) doesn’t degrade the quality of NHL play for the “2nd half” of the upcoming season. I also hope Team USA brings the gold medal home.
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USA! USA! GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!
Topics: 2014, Alex Pietrangelo, Alexander Steen, David Backes, Jaroslav Halak, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, NHL, Olympics, Patrik Berglund, Roman Polak, Sochi, St. Louis Blues, TJ Oshie, Vladimir Tarasenko, Winter Games