TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC
Jiri Hudler may not have been chosen to represent the Czech Republic at the Olympics, but Miroslav Blatak was. Blatak was a fourth round pick of the Red Wings back in 2001, and though he’s a “defected player,” it’s my understanding that he remains property of the Wings (though, it’s unlikely he makes his way to North America or the NHL at this stage of his career). Blatak was one of only six non-NHL players to make Team Czech Republic (Jaromir Jagr was one of the others), and chances are good he won’t dress on a defense corps that already includes Jan Hejda, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, and Marek Zidlicky. Former Red Wing Dominik Hasek was also left off the roster.
Team Canada was announced this morning, and the only Red Wing invited to camp — Dan Cleary — was not on the roster. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he shouldn’t have been viewed as anything but an extremely long shot, but a bit disappointing nonetheless. One would think that Brad Stuart garnered an extra look or two with his strong play this season, but cracking this insanely deep group would have taken a miracle. Also, in a clear affront to TPL readers everywhere, the greatest player on the planet, OMFG TODD BERTUZZIBARGHL! was omitted, meaning the Canadian braintrust obviously wasn’t watching in the four — count em, four — games Bertuzzi showed up to.
A quartet of Red Wings will play for Sweden in Vancouver: Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas “The Butt” Holmstrom, the currently-injured Niklas Kronwall, and Nicklas Lidstrom — who was named Captain of the squad. Jonathan Ericsson was in contention, but ultimately didn’t make the squad, joining Team Pout Captain Mikael Samuelsson on a list of Swedes that will have a few weeks off in February.
The love our life, Valtteri Filppula, was named to the Finnish roster. Ville Leino, who as of two years ago was a shoe-in for this squad, was rightfully left off. No word yet on whether he had a Mikael Samuelsson-like breakdown and threw things (which, clearly, missed whatever target he was aiming for).
Two former Red Wings made Slovakia’s roster: Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. Kopecky said he’d only play if Hossa made the team, too. Classy guy, that Kopecky.
There aren’t any Red Wings on this squad, but you should head over to Fight Night at the Joe, where my favorite Norwegian (besides, of course, the guys that make up a-ha), Andy, breaks down every player and talks about the squad that will face both Canada and the United States in the preliminary round.
The American team (which will definitely include Brian Rafalski) will be named during the Winter Classic in Boston, but there has been some talk that Jimmy Howard might find a way onto the squad. Wouldn’t that be something? I have to think it’s a longshot, but even if he makes the team, he probably won’t see the ice, as he’d be behind Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller on the depth chart. Other goaltending options are early season Vezina favorite Craig Anderson, LA King Jonathan Quick, Ty Conklin, and oft-injured Rick DiPietro, so maybe it’s not so crazy Howard’s name has been included in conversations.
In what shouldn’t be a surprise anymore, Tomas Tatar is having a second fantastic WJC. He had two goals and as assist in one game for Team Slovakia just after Christmas. Red Wings draft pick Max Nicastro was a final cut for Team USA, but undrafted free agent signee Brian Lashoff made the squad, arguably as the final defenseman based on playing time. A great accomplishment, anyway, and I urge you to head over to Babcock’s Death Stare for a much more in-depth report on the World Juniors rosters.