~~NHL Stars to Participate in Sochi Winter Olympics


Howard Goldin


Bronx, NY---After the first three of the 2014  Coors NHL  Stadium Series concluded late Wednesday night, many NHL fans and players gave thought to the national hockey squads of 2014 Winter Olympics that will take place in Sochi, Russia.


Current NHL teammates will become opponents beginning in mid-February as each participating player will be representing the country of his birth. The NHL teams will be competing for one more week before a two week cessation of games.


Fifteen players from the three local NHL franchises that were at Yankee Stadium during the past week will be in Sochi representing eight nations. Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonough, and Derek Stepan of the Rangers will be on the United States team. Carl Hagelin and Rick Nash of the Rangers and John Tavares of the Islanders will be on Team Canada. Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky of the Devils will play for Czechoslovakia. The Devils’ Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek will be with Austria. Ranger Mats Zuccarello will be with Norway. Islander Lubomir Visnovsky will be on Slovakia. Devil Damien Brunner will be on the team from Switzerland. Henrik Lundquist, the Rangers’ goalie, will again lead Sweden.
Of the 15, five are medalists, Callahan, Jagr, Elias, Nash and Lundquist. The latter two received Gold. At this time, the medal favorites are the United States, Canada, Sweden and Russia.


As they are all professionals, they are currently focusing on the final few games to play in early February. At a press conference after Wednesday night’s game against the Islanders, Lundquist explained his and the others’ thought processes as the Olympics approach, “The closer it [Olympics] gets, the more you think about it. Right now, our focus is to get in the playoffs.”


The Olympic teams will have a relatively short time to practice as a team and form a bond before the first day of games on February 12.


Overriding the publicity for each sport is the threat of terrorist violence in Sochi and nearby areas. This issue has become a widespread international concern that has been publicly discussed by world leaders. Terrorist violence at the Olympics has been a reality since the 1972 Olympics in Munich.


Lundquist, an experienced Olympian, discussed his thoughts regarding potential violence in Sochi, “When you’re there, you tend not to think about it [a threat]. I think every Olympics has a threat.”


Hopefully, the games in Sochi between the 12th and 23rd of February will be interesting, competitive and well-played and the area will be free of violence.