Today was the final day for nation’s that qualified for next month’s Sochi games to hand in their rosters and 11 local players have been selected to represent their countries.
Four Islanders, four Rangers and three Devils have the honor of suiting up for their home countries in February; the Islanders injured defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky will likely not participate in the tournament but made the Slovakian team.
Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek will both suit up for their native Austria, John Tavares will pair with Ranger winger Rick Nash on a loaded team Canada, Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin will play together for Sweden, Mats Zuccarello is the NHL’s lone player for Norway. The Devils will send three players to the Czech squad; Patrick Elias, Marek Zidlicky and the seemingly immortal Jaromir Jagr.
The Olympics provides a unique opportunity for rivals to become teammates and vice versa, and with the immense rivalry already imbedded in the metropolitan area already it provides an even greater dynamic for some of our local heroes.
The overlap isn’t as drastic in this scenario though, as only two rival players will be suiting up together (Nash and Tavares), but it will pit current teammates against one another which is always fun to watch, especially when you add in the three Rangers that have already been named to team USA (Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh).
On a personal level I am a huge fan of the Olympic hockey tournament and I am glad to see so many players (14 in all) that I get to watch on a daily basis got the credit they deserved by being given the chance to play at the international level.