Posted On Tuesday, 01.21.2014 / 10:44 AM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Hurricanes' Semin added to Russia's Olympic team

Carolina Hurricanes forward Alexander Semin was added to Russia's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Tuesday.

Semin also played for Russia at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when he had two assists in four games. He has nine goals and 12 assists in 36 games for the Hurricanes.

According to Russian sports website, Semin will replace forward Sergei Soin, who plays for Dynamo Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League but sustained a knee injury last week.

Posted On Monday, 01.20.2014 / 11:00 AM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Ovechkin excited for Sochi Olympics

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was a guest on NBC's Today Show live from Rockefeller Center in New York City on Monday to discuss his selection to represent Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"I'm very excited," Ovechkin told NBC's Carson Daly."It's a big honor for me, for my country."

Ovechkin will be making his third Olympic appearance and was the first Russian to carry the Olympic Torch in a ceremony at Olympia, Greece on Sept. 29, 2013. In the 2006 Turin Olympics, Russia lost the bronze medal game to the Czech Republic. Four years later in Vancouver, Russia fell in the quarterfinals to Canada, the eventual gold-medal winner

This year, the games will be played in Ovechkin's home country, where there will be extra incentive to win gold.

"Everybody wants to win a gold medal, especially when playing at home," Ovechkin said. "I'm sure every hockey player, every fan in Russia, wants us to win. But it's going to be hard because every team has a strong team. It's going to be a battle."

Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 6:18 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Road to Sochi blog

Tavares OK with playing wing for Canada

Though John Tavares has spent his entire NHL career as a center, the New York Islanders captain knows there's no guarantee he'll be in the middle when he takes the ice for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month.

And he's OK with that.

Canada is loaded with talent down the middle, including Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf. That could result in Tavares spending his time in Sochi on left wing, though he said this week he "hasn't heard anything" about his ultimate position.

"Really, the only thing I know is from the camp in the summertime, they had me at center," he said. "They talked to me about playing the wing and being versatile. I know there’s a possibility being in a different spot than I’m accustomed to.”

Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 1:34 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Bruins' Chara to carry Slovakian flag at Olympics

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will be Slovakia's flag bearer during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in February.

Chara, also captain of Slovakia's Olympic hockey team, will be the fourth Slovak athlete to carry his country's flag, joining Peter Stastny (1994), Robert Petrovicky (2002) and Ziggy Palffy (2010).

The Olympic opening ceremony will be held Feb. 7, six days before Slovakia plays its first game against the United States. Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed Thursday that Chara has been granted permission to leave the team and miss Boston's final game before the Olympic break, Feb. 8 against the Ottawa Senators.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 12:07 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Datsyuk named captain of Russian Olympic team

Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, coach of Russia's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, announced Wednesday that Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk has been named team captain.

"When I discussed this issue with coaching staff and the team's general manager, Alexei Kasatonov, it felt like Datsyuk was the most suitable candidate for the role," Bilyaletdinov said at a press conference in Moscow. "It was important that the players supported the choice as well."

Datsyuk seems to be excited to lead the team at the Olympics, which will take place in his home country.

"I am honored to be named a captain," Datsyuk wrote on his verified Twitter account, @Datsyuk13. "Our team embraces the opportunity and responsibility of representing our country on the home ice."

This will be the fourth Olympics for Datsyuk, who represented Russia in 2002, 2006 and 2010. In 18 Olympic games Datsyuk has three goals and 14 points.

In 35 games with the Red Wings this season he has 15 goals and 32 points.

Posted On Sunday, 01.12.2014 / 11:53 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Rangers' Zuccarello excited to lead Norway in Sochi

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello admits it has been some time since he represented his country on the international stage. But it was an eye-opening experience for Zuccarello when he skated for his native Norway in 2010.

Zuccarello's international experience that year started with the Vancouver Olympics, where he led an overmatched Norwegian team that lost all four games by a combined score of 23-8. But things got better for Zuccarello and the Norwegians when they competed at the IIHF World Championship that spring in Germany. The wing led a vastly-improved Norwegian squad, scoring the winner in a 3-2 win against Switzerland, as well as a big goal in a major 3-2 upset of the Czech Republic.

Now being called upon to represent his country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Zuccarello is hoping to continue that steady improvement for his national team.

"It's going to be cool. A good experience. We're a small country. I guess we have as many hockey players as Toronto has ice rinks," said Zuccarello, who met with Norwegian hockey officials last week to discuss logistics for the upcoming games. "It's going to be tough but at the same time we made it to the Olympics, we'll do our best and work hard. We're equally as proud to represent our country as the Canadians and the Swedes and everybody else."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 9:00 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Coyotes' Smith 'excited' to play for Canada

Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 8:55 PM

By Staff -  / - Road to Sochi blog

Vanek talks Islanders' surge, Sochi Games

Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 12:57 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Canadiens' draft class represented at Sochi Games

PHILADELPHIA -- The Montreal Canadiens had eight players named to their respective countries' rosters for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the second-most of any team in the Eastern Conference and tied for the fourth-most of any NHL team.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin sees that as a point of pride, but he won't take a lot of credit for it. Instead, he points to Trevor Timmins, the team's director of amateur scouting.

Timmins and his staff were responsible for drafting four of the eight players picked -- forward Max Pacioretty (United States); defensemen Alexei Emelin (Russia) and P.K. Subban (Canada); and goaltender Carey Price (Canada). Forward Tomas Plekanec (Czech Republic) and defenseman Andrei Markov (Russia) were picked by the Canadiens prior to Timmins joining the organization in 2002. The only players not drafted by the Canadiens to make an Olympic team were backup goalie Peter Budaj (Slovakia), signed as a free agent in 2011, and defenseman Raphael Diaz (Switzerland), a free-agent signee who never was drafted and made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in the 2011-12 season.

"[Six] of those guys were Montreal draft picks and most of them were drafted by Trevor's staff," Bergevin said. "Our drafting, from Day 1 when I got here, was the way to build a team. This shows we are on the right track."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 12:48 PM

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Stars' Dillon envisions Benn on line with Perry, Getzlaf

NEW YORK -- Dallas Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon predicts Canada will use a line of Jamie Benn, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He feels for any defensemen who would have to match up against a trio like that.

"I think that line would be pretty deadly," said Dillon, who visited the NHL offices Tuesday shortly after Canada announced its Olympic roster that included Benn, the Stars captain. "Just from playing against those two [Perry and Getzlaf] on their own and adding a third guy in there who can skate just as well, make plays just as well and is just as hard to handle down low … they should be OK."

As a defenseman, how would Dillon try to handle a line as big and skilled as one that features Benn on the left, Getzlaf in the middle and Perry on the right?

"Try to keep the puck away from them as much as you can, stay on offense," he said. "Even then those guys are up there in takeaways. Those guys, they're so good and they're two right-handers and a left-handed shot tossing it in there. Perry and Getzlaf, their chemistry says something already, and then Benn, playing with him for two years now, I mean he deserves all the accolades he's starting to get. One thing in Dallas is he's flying under the radar, but I think this is so good for him."

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