A quick peek at the Blackhawks' European Olympians
The Blackhawks are one of the NHL teams with the most players headed to Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Along with the three players joining team Canada and Patrick Kane joining team USA, there are six players joining their European country teams.
Three of them have been called up by team Sweden: Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Oduya is a 2010 Olympian while both Kruger and Hjalmarsson will participate in their first Olympics.
Team Sweden is a contender not to put aside too quickly, with a team looking very strong on paper, led on by Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. They have Henrik Lundqvist in net, one of the league’s best goaltenders, and along with the Hawks defenseman, Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Their team is mostly made-up of NHLers, like New York Rangers’ Carl Hagelin, Colorado Avalanche Gabriel Landeskog, and several Detroit Red Wings players.
Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus will join team Slovakia in Sochi. It will be Hossa’s fourth Olympic participation, and Handzus’ third. They join a mixed team, with some NHLers like St Louis Blues’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak, Carolina Hurricanes’ D-man Andrej Sekera and Slovakia’s flag-bearer for the Olympics opening ceremony, D-man and captain of the Boston bruins, Zdeno Chara. Also a member is Marian Hossa’s brother, Marcel.
Team Slovakia isn’t touted as having many chances to medal against tournament favorites like team Canada or team USA, but they’re a talented team with a strong defense.
Lastly, Michal Rozsival will join team Czech Republic for the Olympics. He will join ex-Blackhawks Michael Frolik, as well as several other NHL players, like Boston bruins forward David Krejci, New Jersey Devils forward and hockey legend Jaromir Jagr, and Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky. In total, they boast 17 players from the NHL.
Like Slovakia, Czech Republic’s team is not considered a big contender for an Olympic medal, but they still have some offense powerhouses in their midst, as well as some very efficient penalty killers.