NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — When it comes to Olympic hockey, Tri-State Area NHL fans need to think beyond North America. While it’s easy to fixate on Team USA and Team Canada, our local professional teams will be well represented throughout Europe as well.
Earlier Tuesday, Islanders captain John Tavares and Rangers winger Rick Nash were named to the Canadian national team. Back on New Year’s Day, following the NHL Winter Classic in Michigan, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and teammates Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan were named to the American national team.
But the New York City-area NHL reach goes well beyond this continent. The Rangers, Islanders and Devils will be sending 10 additional players to the Games, representing Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland.
Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner will play for Team Austria. Vanek, who will turn 30 before the Games, may be the most famous player in Austrian history. He has 15 goals and 21 assists this season playing alongside Tavares for the Islanders. Grabner, despite struggling statistically for the Islanders, remains one of the most skilled players in the world and could be a handful to deal with on Olympic-size ice due to his speed.
Former Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes for Team Sweden. Lundqvist is just 12-16-3 with a .906 save percentage this season for the Rangers, but has played exceptionally well on the international stage in the past, leading the Swedes to Olympic gold in 2006 in Turin, Italy. He will be joined by Rangers teammate Carl Hagelin, who is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL.
The Devils will be represented by legendary Czech Republic players Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias, along with solid defenseman Marek Zidlicky. This will be the fifth Olympic Games for Jagr, who will turn 42 while in Sochi. The future NHL Hall of Famer has 13 goals and 34 points this season for New Jersey and is six goals shy of 700 for his brilliant career.
Elias is 45 points short of 1,000 for his NHL career. The 37-year-old forward has represented the Czech Republic three other times at the Olympics and will be an alternate captain, along with Jagr, in Sochi.
Zidlicky, one of the better offensive defensemen in the NHL, will be representing his country for the third time at the Olympics.
Mats Zuccarello, who leads the Rangers in scoring with 30 points, will be the lone NHL player on Team Norway. The diminutive forward had three points in four games at the Vancouver Games four years ago.
Damien Brunner, who has 13 points for the Devils, will represent Team Switzerland, while veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who has played in only eight games for the Islanders due to a concussion, was named to Team Slovakia, but it remains to be seen if he will play.
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