Blackhawks well represented on Olympic Rosters

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By Paul M. Banks

6 Hawks make Olympic rosters for USA, Canada and Slovakia

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane has been named to the United States’ 23-man roster for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, USA Hockey announced yesterday afternoon at Fenway Park. He will be making his Olympic debut for the U.S., which opens the tournament against Switzerland on Feb. 16.

Kane, 21, has represented the United States extensively in international play, including winning a gold medal at the 2006 World Under-18 Championships where he finished as the tournament’s leading scorer.  He also skated for the U.S. at the 2007 World Junior Championships, and tied for the team scoring lead at the 2008 IIHF World Championships despite being the youngest player on the American roster.  Kane is a product of the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan (2005-07).

The Buffalo, New York native currently paces all Americans in the National Hockey League with a team-leading 45 points (17G,28A) in 40 games this season. Kane is the NHL’s reigning Second Star, for the week ending Dec. 27, and has recorded seven goals in his last six games.

The National Hockey League will suspend its regular-season schedule from Feb. 15 through Feb. 28 for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Olympic hockey tournament begins on Feb. 16, 2010 when the United States takes on Switzerland.

Captain Jonathan Toews and defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been named to Team Canada’s 23-man roster. All three will be making their Olympic debuts for the host nation, which opens the tournament against Norway on Feb. 16.

 

Keith on his pairing with Seabrook: “I think this is our third season being paired up together, and I think the way Brent plays kind of helps my game. I think right from the get-go it was kind of a pretty good pairing, being able to play with him and read off him. He’s a big strong guy, smart and always in good position.

Seabrook on getting the call: “I was really nervous this morning, then the phone rang and it was a number I didn’t know. So I picked it up and I didn’t really know what to say. I said, “Hi,” and he introduced himself and I said, “Oh hey Kevin Lowe,” and he starts laughing. You know, I am just thrilled, excited and honored to be named and play in Vancouver. I have my buddies back home and my family; I’ve gotten text messages and people calling me and congratulating me. It’s very special.”

Jonathan Toews on how confident he was about making the team: “I wasn’t sure. I don’t think the three of us were a 100% sure until we heard our names this morning or we got the phone call. You know, we heard a lot of talk and people gossip and gave their own opinion about who they think is going to be on the team, but until you hear your name mentioned… I was definitely pretty nervous this morning and I definitely think it’s a huge accomplishment for the three of us to have the opportunity to play for this team. We’re definitely pretty excited about it. It was a special moment to share with my parents this morning. Again, it’s kind of funny. My mom is the one that got the phone call, because she had my phone in the kitchen, and she came running into my bedroom jumping up and down and I knew what was going on. It was kind of funny.”

Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman on the selection of Keith and Seabrook: “the Chicago Blackhawks I think have the stingiest defense in the league right now; these are the two players that play against the other team’s top players every game, game in, game out, and they’re not allowing many goals a game. When we really thought about it, it was like, this is kind of an easy decision for us in that we’ve got a good pair; we know they work together, there’s chemistry, they’re familiar with one another. Let’s just go with them. Let’s not get cute, let’s not overthink this and we’ll work around that. We’re very comfortable with that decision, but again, that’s something we talked at length about — is this the right thing to do? And we all felt pretty strongly at the end of the day that it was the right thing to do.

Toews, 21, has won four gold medals while representing his country in international play, including the 2008 World Junior Championships where he captained Team Canada. Currently the youngest captain in the National Hockey League, Toews ranks third on the Blackhawks with 11 goals and 29 points, and paces the club with five power-play markers. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native leads the Western Conference with a +17 plus/minus rating this year.

Duncan Keith recorded two assists and a +9 plus/minus rating in nine games during the 2008 World Championships, helping Canada to a silver medal. Keith, 26, currently ranks third among NHL defensemen with a team-leading 28 assists this season, ranks third with 34 points, and leads the league in average ice-time per game. Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native has posted a +72 plus/minus rating, third-best in the NHL.

Born and raised in Richmond, British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver, defenseman Brent Seabrook’s international resume includes a gold medal at the 2005 World Junior Championships. Seabrook, 24, is currently tied for sixth among NHL blueliners with a +14 plus/minus rating, ranks second on the Blackhawks in both hits and blocked shots, and has a pair of overtime game-winning goals for Chicago this season.

Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky have been named to Slovakia’s 23-man roster for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.  Slovakia will open the tournament against the Czech Republic on Feb. 17, 2010.

The 2010 Games will be the third Olympic experience of Marian Hossa’s career.  The 30-year old forward registered six points (4G,2A) in two games for Slovakia in Salt Lake City in 2002, and 10 points (5G,5A) in six contests during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.  Hossa has also represented Slovakia in numerous World Junior Championships, World Championships, and the 2004 World Cup in his international career.

A native of Stara Lubovna, Slovakia, Hossa was signed by the Blackhawks as a free agent this summer following a team-leading 40-goal campaign with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008-09.  He has netted six goals and seven assists in 16 games since joining the Chicago lineup after missing the first 22 contests of the year.  Since the start of the 2001-02 season, Hossa is the third-most prolific goal scorer in the National Hockey League, and is one of eight players in NHL history to post a 40-goal season with three different teams.

The 21st Winter Olympiad will be Tomas Kopecky’s first opportunity to represent his country in international play.  In his first season with the Blackhawks, the 27-year old forward has tallied five points (G,4A) in 36 regular-season games.  Kopecky established career-highs in goals, assists, and points last season with the Detroit Red Wings, and won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008.

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