There has been much talk concerning how the Olympics will affect the fortunes of teams moving forward this season. Will Olympians be burnt out by the tight Games schedule and intense play? Will teams with few or no Olympians benefit with the time off to rest battered and bruised bodies? And what about young teams with key players not accustomed to an 82-game schedule, will the Olympic break afford them an advantage? And, of course, just how many pina coladas can a pro hockey player have without ruining the last quarter of his season?
Those are all questions that have been bandied about since late December when Olympic rosters began trickling out from the various national federations. But they’re also questions that have been almost entirely NHL-oriented.
And while NHL players do dominate Olympic rosters (all 30 teams have at least one representative at the Games), there are other leagues with players in Vancouver. And there are European teams that have sent a number of players to represent their respective countries.
Here is THN.com’s Top 10 teams with players in the Olympics (actually, due to a tie, it’s a Top 11 this week):
T-10. Boston Bruins, NHL, six Olympians
Defending Norris Trophy winner and Slovakian captain Zdeno Chara leads the Boston contingent into the Games. He is joined by fellow Slovakian-Bruin Miro Satan, Canadian Patrice Bergeron, Czech David Krejci, American Tim Thomas and German Marco Sturm.
T-10. Chicago Blackhawks, NHL, six Olympians
Chicago’s defense pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook is one of the best in the NHL and Team Canada is hoping the same will be said in Vancouver. Joining their Hawks teammates at the Games are Slovaks Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, American Patrick Kane and Canadian Jonathan Toews.
T–10. Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL, six Olympians
Canadian Rick Nash is the biggest-name Blue Jacket to make an Olympic roster. Joining Nash are Czech Jan Hejda, Slovak Milan Jurcina, Swedes Freddy Modin and Sammy Pahlsson and Russian Fedor Tyutin.
T-10. Nashville Predators, NHL, six Olympians
Leading scorer and Swede Patric Hornqvist is in Vancouver, Czech Martin Erat is there, too, as is German Marcel Goc, followed by a trio of defensemen: German Alexander Sulzer, American Ryan Suter and Canadian Shea Weber.
T-10. Salavat Yulayev Ufa, Kontinental League, six Olympians
The first non-NHL team to make our list is the KHL’s best team this season. Ufa players are, not surprisingly, led by a quartet of Russians: Dmitri Kalinin, Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Radulov and Sergei Zinovjev. Joining them are Czech Miroslav Blatak and Norwegian Patrick Thoresen.
T-5. Detroit Red Wings, NHL, seven Olympians
Four Swedes lead Detroit’s Olympians: Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg. The other Wings in Vancouver are Russia’s Pavel Datsyuk, Finland’s Valtteri Filppula and USA’s Brian Rafalski.
T-5. Vancouver Canucks, NHL, seven Olympians
The contingent of Canucks playing on ‘home’ ice includes two Swedes, twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin; a Slovak, Pavol Demitra; a German, Christian Ehrhoff; a Canadian, Roberto Luongo; an American, Ryan Kesler; and a Finn, Sami Salo.
T-3. Anaheim Ducks, NHL, eight Olympians
Three Canadians, Ryan Getzlaf, Scott Niedermayer and Corey Perry, headed the Ducks’ flight north to Vancouver. Veteran Finns Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are also at the Olympics, as are Americans Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney and Swiss netminder Jonas Hiller.
T-3. San Jose Sharks, NHL, eight Olympians
The four highest-scoring Sharks, Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle, are all Canadian and are all at the Olympics. Other Sharks at the Games include Swede Douglas Murray, American Joe Pavelski and both of San Jose’s goaltenders, German Thomas Greiss and Russian Evgeni Nabokov.
2. Dynamo Minsk, KHL, 13 Olympians
Dynamo is Belarus’ lone KHL entry and Minsk is Belarus’ capital, so it’s not surprising the country has used the team as a sort of national-team lite. Twelve Belarussians, the most recognizable being netminder and 2002 Olympic hero Andrei Mezin, play for Minsk; they are joined by Finland flag-bearer Ville Peltonen.
1. Dinamo Riga, KHL, 17 Olympians
Like their KHL cousins in Minsk, Latvia uses the top pro club in its capital city as a de facto year-round national team. Of the 17 Olympians from Riga, 16 are Latvian, led by former NHLer Martins Karsums. The 17th Riga player at the Games is Slovak Marcel Hossa.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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