Now, I’m not saying that Keth Yandle is shooting anyone the stink eye in the locker room. In fact, he’s such a class act that I’m sure he’s nothing but happy for his teammates who are heading to Sochi, Russia without him. But it just gets under my craw when a solid scorer like Yandle gets snubbed and is forced to watch his buddies suit up for a shot at Gold.
But let’s stay positive. Yotes forward Martin Hanzal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek were announced January 6th, followed today (the deadline for Olympics rosters) by Mike Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Lori Korpikoski all getting the nod from their respective nations. Two of these tough competitors (Hanzal and Michalek)will be playing for the Czech Republic, Mike Smith will be joining Canada, Ekman-Larsson joins his brethren for Sweden and Korpikoski for Finland. All of whom will be carrying their countries hopes on their shoulders against the world’s best.
For Hanzal it will be his first trip to the Olympics. Though he’s not unused to performing on the international stage. For years he’s played admirably for his country in all phases of the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship Series since 2005. For Michalek going to the Winter Olympics is old hat. He’s been there and he’s done that, having played for the Czech Republic in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. There he notched 5 games under his belt without medaling. Surely this year he has higher hopes.
One of today’s additions Mike Smith should come as no surprise to anyone as Smith was invited to Canada’s Olympics Orientation Camp last August. Maybe back then it made more sense for Mike to make the list but his uneven performance this season for the Coyotes has some of us wondering just what Canada is thinking. Smith so far has been 15-10-8 with a 2.89 GAA and a .911 save percentage. While he’s made some spectacular moves in front of the net this season Smith often falls apart in the 3rd period, giving up easy goals. The easiest being the infamous “puck in his pants play” from late 2013.
Ekman-Larssson will join fellow countrymen Ottawa Senators Erik Larsson and the Detroit Red Wings Niklas Kronwall. Even though Ekman-Larsson has been waylaid with an upper body injury, Sweden obviously feels confident he’ll be good to go come the Olympics. Word is he looks ready to suit up as early as this week.
Lori Korpikoski, though injured earlier in the season, has looked good since returning to the ice. He’s been seen as a lock for Finland for some time now. Lori so far is making quite a name for himself, having most recently scored last week agains the Philadelphia Flyers in the 5-3 Coyotes loss. For all three players added today it will be there first Olympic appearance.
And Yandle sits alone in a darkened room. Hockey Stick in hand. Wondering “why?”
Okay that’s it for now. Let’s gear up for the Yotes game tonight at Jobing.com Arena against the Calgary Flames where Mike Smith will be sitting out per Tipps orders. Go Yotes!