Bruins Beat: Which B’s Will Play in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games?
With the announcement coming a couple of days ago confirming NHL players being allowed to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics; It is no surprise to see various countries release their Orientation Camp rosters. So far Canada, the USA, Finland, Sweden, and Russia have released their rosters, with more of the less prominent hockey countries to follow in time.
It has already been announced that Bruins’ coach Claude Julien will be a part of Canada’s coaching staff along with Detroit’s Mike Babcock at the helm. Bruins’ General Manager Peter Chiarelli has also been named to Canada’s management as well, but what about the players? Which Bruins were invited to these camps, and which ones are likely to play in the games?
Patrice Bergeron played for Canada in the 2010 Vancouver games, and he took home a gold medal while doing so. It was a bit of a surprise to see Bergy get named to the team given the lack of recognition he has gotten seemingly his whole career. We in Boston knew the type of player he was, so it may not have been a surprise to us, but to the rest of the hockey world it is a different story. Now that he has been invited to Canada’s orientation camp this time around, it comes as no surprise to anyone, as his performance over the last few seasons has elevated his status as one of the game’s elite. Bergeron is a member of the triple gold club (Olympic Gold, World Championship Gold, and a Stanley Cup).
Joining Bergeron at Canada’s orientation camp this time are Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic. To me, Marchy is a bit of a surprise given the fact that every player on Team Canada is usually an elite player. Marchand is great, but his invite surprised me. I think he brings a lot to the table, but I honestly can’t see him getting the nod here to join the team when it is finalized. Despite my surprise, it is still quite the honor for the feisty winger, and it is possible I am underrating him here. It should also be noted that Marchand does have two gold medals with Team Canada from 2007 and 2008 World Juniors.
Lucic has a chance to make the roster this time around, though I would be surprised if he did. The hulking power forward’s regular season was underwhelming, but his playoff performance was elite. Looch is obviously a one-of-a-kind player so any team facing Canada would be hard-pressed to match his size, skill, and intensity. Lucic was named to Canada’s 2010 orientation camp, but was ultimately not chosen. Milan does have some experience in international play as well. He was captain of team in Canada’s 2007 “Super Series” team that paid homage to the 1972 summit series between Russia and Canada. He had three assists as Canada won 7 of 8 games.
Bruins newcomer Loui Eriksson has been invited to Team Sweden’s camp. Eriksson played for Sweden during the 201o Vancouver games and has been a mainstay in Swedish international hockey for the better part of the decade. He has played in three World Juniors tournaments, One Olympic Games, and three World Championships. He won gold with Sweden in 2013, and has silver and a bronze medal in 2011 and 2009 respectively. Eriksson is lock to play for Sweden in the 2014 Sochi games barring an injury. Bruins fans should be excited that a world class player is joining heir organization for next season.
Zdeno Chara was the captain of Slovakia during the 2010 Vancouver Games, and though Slovakia has yet to release their invitee list, I completely expect him to take that role again in Sochi. Chara has played in two Olympic games, and is arguably the best Slovakian player in the game today. He has earned two silver medals in international play during the 2012 and 2000 World Championships. The Bruins’ big man is a world class player, and is a freak athlete. At 36 years old Chara still defies the odds and produces significant minutes despite entering the part of his career where most players slow down. Big Z is a lock for team Slovakia.
Tuukka Rask has been invited to Team Finland’s orientation camp for the first time in his career. Things keep getting better for the young Finn as he has just recently signed a massive 8 year deal worth $56 million, only to be named to Finland’s camp a couple weeks later. Rask will have some heavy competition though, as Finland’s goaltending pull is arguably the best and deepest of any Olympic country. He will have to contend with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (this writer’s choice for best in the game), San Jose’s Antti Niemi coming off a Vezina nomination, the Dallas Stars’ Kari Lehtonen, and the Minnesota Wild’s Niklas Backstrom. My money is on Rinne and Rask being 1a and 1b in the 2014 Sochi games, with Niemi being the reserve third. I do believe though, that Rask can win the number one spot.
The Bruins are going to be well represented in the Sochi 2014 games, and it will be a treat for any Bruins fans to see. Peter Chiarelli and co. have put together a diverse world class roster.
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