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The Road to Vancouver

Monday, 02.15.2010 / 4:00 PM / All-Access Vancouver


Getzlaf ready for Team Canada
2.15.2010 / 12:30 p.m. ET

Bob McKenzie of TSN has confirmed that Flyers center Jeff Carter has been told his services are no longer required for Team Canada since Ryan Getzlaf has passed his medical evaluation and is raring to go.

After missing two games with a sprained left ankle, Getzlaf returned to the Ducks lineup on Sunday and struck for 2 goals and 4 points.

The Canadians open tournament play on Tuesday against Norway.

-- Mike G. Morreale

Wilson hopes to build early chemistry
2.14.2010 / 11:00 PM ET

Team USA coach Ron Wilson knows first-hand about the importance of chemistry and the need to develop it right away. His '96 World Cup team gelled immediately en route to winning that seminal title for the United States. His '98 Olympic team sputtered from its first game and never got going in a forgettable performance at the Nagano Olympics.

So Wilson informed his players of their line combinations and defense pairings last week. And he says he'll deploy a tactical system that is simple and should require little adaptation for most of his players. Wilson did, however, identify one potential hurdle.

"The challenge is building chemistry in a hurry," Wilson said. "It's a big chemistry test. I've been thinking about combinations for a long time. And the players have seen who they're going to be playing with -- we thought informing them a week ahead of time they could close their eyes and imagine playing with each other.

"On the other hand, in a short tournament, you actually simplify everything. And you find that that's the way you should coach in the NHL too -- try to stay out of the way. So our system, as I'm sure Canada's and all the other teams', will be very simplified -- very similar to what the players on the various teams do … with maybe the exception of the New Jersey Devils players. Getting them to forecheck might be a difficult transition for those guys -- going forward rather than turning around and kind of angling back."

That comment drew chuckles from reporters at yesterday's Team USA press conference -- particularly since Wilson played for Devils GM Lou Lamoriello at Providence College and was seated at the dais between fellow Providence alumnus Brian Burke and Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.

Offered the chance to rebut, Langenbrunner smiled and said, "No need."

Later, when Devils winger Zach Parise was conducting an interview in the back of the room, Burke walked by and cracked: "I can't believe you let Wils get away with that shot at Lou.

-- John Dellapina

Getzlaf matches season-high point total in Olympic tuneup
2.14.2010 / 11:00 PM ET

That sprained left ankle that had Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf in a walking boot on Thursday was a distant memory on Sunday when the power-forward struck for 2 goals and 4 points in a 7-3 triumph over Edmonton in Alberta.

It was Getzlaf's first two-goal effort of the 2009-10 season and his first 4-point performance since Nov. 14 when he hit for 1 goal and 3 assists in a 7-4 loss to Detroit.

There had been talk over the weekend that Getzlaf's spot on the Canadian Olympic Team was in serious jeopardy after missing two games because of the injury he sustained last week. Philadelphia Flyers center Jeff Carter is in Vancouver just in case Getzlaf doesn't pass a medical evaluation. Of course, after Getzlaf's performance on Sunday night, that appears to be a moot point at this stage.

Team Canada plays Norway in its opening game on Tuesday.

--Mike G. Morreale

Franzen replaces Holmstrom for Sweden
2.14.2010 / 05:55 PM ET

Red Wings power forward Johan Franzen will be at the Olympics after all -- because Tomas Holmstrom will not.

Holmstrom is out after reinjuring his knee in Saturday night's game against Ottawa.

Holmstrom's knee has caused him problems throughout the season and left him out of the lineup for extended periods of time before returning to the lineup on Feb. 2. But he made it through just five games -- scoring three points -- before deciding the knee was too unstable for the rigors of the two-week Olympic tournament.

Holmstrom will be replaced by Franzen, who missed much of the season before returning recently from knee surgery, far ahead of schedule. Franzen has played in Detroit's past three games, scoring goals in two of them.

Franzen spoke to the Detroit Free Press about the possibility of being named as a replacement on Friday.

"It would be great for me to play in the Olympics and play against the best players," Franzen said. "Get the tempo up even more than it is here. It would be really good for me."

Detroit GM Ken Holland, who will also serve as an assistant to Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman at the Olympics, agrees that it is a good idea for Franzen to play in the Olympics.

"For him to go to the Olympics as a replacement player, I think it would be good for him and good for us," Holland said.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Scare for Team Canada's Crosby
2.14.2010 / 04:55 PM ET

It's a safe bet that Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman had an uncomfortable Sunday afternoon in Vancouver as he waited for the Team Canada players to arrive.

In fact, Yzerman's worse nightmare almost played out before his eyes when Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby -- the guy Yzerman called "our top player" in Saturday's opening press conference -- was struck by a slap shot in the second period of Sunday afternoon's loss to the Nashville Predators.

The shot, off the stick of Kevin Klein, struck Crosby in the right shin and sent him hobbling to the bench after his shift, wincing in pain. He remained on the bench for several minutes afterward, according to reports, before testing out the injury.

Crosby did eventually return to the game and left for Vancouver after its conclusion. Team Canada opens the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament against Norway on Tuesday afternoon. Crosby is scheduled to arrive here late Sunday night and be on the ice for Monday's afternoon practice session.

"I thought it was a great blocked shot," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Getting in the lane and preventing that from getting to our net. He was excited … a little emotional about the pain, but I think one of stingers that wore off for him."

Bylsma said the play was just part of Sid being Sid.

"We had this situation happen last year, too, where he went out to block a shot and blocked one that could have -- it was the top of his knee. And does the thought go through your head, that’s risky? Yeah. But it’s also part of what you get from Sidney Crosby, not just trying to score goals, but penalty-killing situations and blocking a shot. I don’t think you want anything less. I think it’s part of the package," Bylsma said.

Crosby finished the game with a goal -- No. 42 on the season, to tie him with Alex Ovechkin for the League lead -- and an assist.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Talking goalies
2.14.2010 / 12:50 PM ET

It was a busy NHL night for Olympic netminders and the results were a mixed bag, at best.

New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, the favorite to start for Canada in the Olympics, was shelled in his final game before the Olympic break, giving up four goals to the Carolina Hurricanes on 22 shots before being pulled early in the third period.

"You know what? You're always as good as the last game you played," Brodeur said. "People can talk all they want. That's part of it.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge of defending our country and going out there and playing well. That will be a decision Team Canada is going to make when we get there. I don't think getting pulled, especially in a game like that with some pretty tough goals to stop, (will be a factor)."

Brodeur was not the only goalie pulled Saturday night, either.

Montreal's Jaroslav Halak was yanked after giving up five goals in 17 shots to the Philadelphia Flyers. Halak has been red-hot since the New Year and will still be the No. 1 for the Slovaks.

Two of the three Team USA goalies enjoyed good nights Saturday night. Ryan Miller won his final start before the break, a 3-1 decision against powerful San Jose to wash away the bitter taste of some bad starts recently.

It definitely helped a little bit," Miller said. "For a while there it didn't seem like much was going my way after pretty much nothing went wrong the first 40 games for me. It's funny how that works."

Jon Quick of the Los Angeles Kings pitched a shutout in his last start before the break. The likely No. 3 for the Americans has been red-hot. With Saturday's 3-0 shutout against Colorado, Quick tied a Kings club record with his NHL-leading 35th victory of the season and posted his second shutout this season and sixth of his career.

The news is not as rosy for Team USA's other goalie, Tim Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Thomas was the backup again Saturday night when Boston beat Tampa Bay as Tuukka Rask earned his sixth-straight start and won his fourth-straight game. Thomas has not played since Feb. 2 and has not won a NHL game since Jan. 14.

"Yeah, but I don't know how much difference not playing the last week will really matter," Thomas told the Boston Herald. "I mean, I think even if I'd played every game the last week, Miller was probably going to be the No. 1 based on the year that he's had."

--Shawn P. Roarke

More injury news
2.14.2010 / 01:45 AM ET

Slovakia may have taken another hit when Chicago's Marian Hossa was shouldered in the head by Colby Armstrong in the third period of Saturday's 5-4 home win over Atlanta. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville says the big winger is "doubtful" for Sunday's game in Columbus.

There's no word about whether he'll be able to play in Vancouver.

The Slovaks are also worried about top sniper Marian Gaborik, who's unlikely to play for the New York Rangers on Sunday against TampaBay. He left Friday's game in Pittsburgh after playing just 4:02. The 35-goal scorer  missed Wednesday's game after sustaining a 21-stitch cut on his right thigh near his knee a day earlier. He tried to give it a go in Pittsburgh but had to call it a night midway through the first period.

Needless to say, losing one of both of their top guns would put a huge hole in the Slovaks' medal hopes.

--John Kreiser

Franzen for Holmstrom?
2.13.2010 / 11:15 PM ET

Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom left in the first period of Saturday's game against Ottawa because of a knee injury, and he's now questionable to play for Sweden in the Olympics.

Holmstrom missed 13 games in January because of a knee injury and returned for three games before sitting out Tuesday night in St. Louis. He returned Thursday night against San Jose, then left Saturday. The Wings says it's not a new injury and Holmstrom will talk to Team Sweden

coaches on Sunday.

"I'm hoping he's going to recover and play for Sweden," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who is also Team Canada's Olympic coach. "He'd be a huge part of their team. He's a huge part of our team with his emotion and net-front presence."

Holmstrom's absence might create an opening for teammate Johan Franzen, who played his third game Saturday following surgery on his left knee that sidelined him for four months.

Another Red Wing, Finnish center Valtteri Filppula, missed Saturday's game with a groin problem but still hopes to be ready for the Games.

-- John Kreiser

's the man
2.13.2010 / 8:40 PM ET

Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby certainly made an impression on Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman during last year's march to the Stanley Cup.

Crosby's Penguins beat the Red Wings in a memorable Final, ending Detroit's bid to win back-to-back titles. Yzerman is a vice president with the Red Wings, the team for which he played his entire Hall of Fame career.

Crosby had 31 points in Pittsburgh's 24-game run to last year's title. The year before, the Penguins and Red Wings also met in the Final with Detroit winning in six games. Crosby had 27 points in that 20-game run, but Yzerman said he Crosby was much better the second time around.

"We watched him play twice in the Stanley Cup Finals and his game has evolved every year," Yzerman said.

"He is a complete player, much like Michael Jordan in basketball," Yzerman said. "He does everything well. He's really, really driven and really, really motivated. He's one of the leaders in our team."

Yzerman went even further in his praise though, arguing that Crosby might be the best player on Team Canada, a 23-man unit that is a de facto NHL All-Star Team.

"You can say he's our top player," Yzerman said. "He has no weaknesses. He's going to be one of our leaders on the ice and off the ice. He's the face of Canadian hockey and maybe one of the faces of the NHL."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Second Kostitsyn bound for Vancouver
2.13.2010 / 2:40 PM ET

Montreal forward Andrei Kostitsyn is being allowed to play for Belarus in the Olympics.

Many thought the Olympics were over for Andrei Kostitsyn when he injured his knee on Dec. 31 and had to undergo surgery. But, his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule and, although he has yet to play a game, he has been skating for the past week. 

That is enough to convince new Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier to release Andre Kostitsyn to the Belarusian national team, where he will join his brother, Montreal's Sergei Kostitsyn.

"He knows that he has to follow the protocol established by (team physician David) Mulder, but, if everyone goes according to schedule, he could be playing by Feb. 23 or 24," Gauthier told Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette.

If that date holds, Andrei Kostitsyn would be available to play after pool play concludes on Feb. 21. The qualification round takes place on Feb. 23 and the quarterfinals are the next day.

Gauthier said part of the reason he is letting his injured player go is that he will be able to continue his rehab with the Belarusians. If Andrei Kostitsyn stayed with the Canadiens, he would not be able to take the ice for a week because of the NHL freeze that takes place after Sunday's games.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Satan a go?
2.13.2010 / 1:35 PM ET

Despite being an injury scratch for the Boston Bruins for Saturday night's game against the Florida Panthers, Miroslav satan appears to have the green light to pLay in the Olympics.

Claude Julien said on Thursday that team doctors found no tendon damage in Satan's hand after it was sliced open during a first-period incident in Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning

Originally, the team thought Satan was cut by a skate blade, but now believes that his hand was cut by the knob of his own stick when it was smashed against the dasher iN a collision with Steve Downie.

According to Julien, Satan is a go to fly with teammate Zdeno Chara, a Slovakian defenseman, to Vancouver on Sunday to join Team Slovakia for a day of practice before the tournament opens on Tuesday with a game against the rival Czech Republic.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Gaborik out again
2.13.2010 / 1:05 PM ET

The confidence that Slovakian coach Jan Filc had about Marian Gaborik being 100 percent for the start of the Olympics has to be wavering now.

Gaborik, the high-scoring Ranger forward, played just one period of Friday's win against Pittsburgh before leaving the game. Gaborik took 21 stitches to his right thigh last week after a collision with ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist in practice.

Friday night, Gaborik took just six shifts and looked to be going half-speed at best before he left the game for good during the first intermission.

Gaborik was also not involved in Rangers practice Saturday morning and ranger cocah John Tortorella announced afterward that the Slovakian forward will not play in Sunday's game against the Lightning, the team's final game before the Olympic break.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Thoughts on the Opening Ceremonies
2.12.2010 / 11:05 PM ET

A number of hockey players spoke to pool reporters before the Opening Ceremonies about what the event meant to them. Here is a sampling:

"I'm a little nervous," Russian flag bearer Alexei Morozov said. "It's an important moment. Anything could happen. I could trip. A lot of our stars, our NHL players, haven't arrived yet. So I was entrusted with this important mission as I was the team captain."

Morozov was as excited as the 60,000 fans who jammed B.C. Place to see who would light the Olympic torch.

"I'm playing in my second Olympic games, but I am attending the Opening Ceremony for the first time," he said. "I think it will be interesting to see what they do with the flame as this is the first time in history the flame is indoors. Everything was a big secret, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with."

Sweden's Peter Forsberg headed his country's procession, but he did not have time to get nervous, like Morozov.

"I just found out last night that I was going to carry the flag," he said. "It's a huge honor. It's something you couldn't even dream about when you are a little kid."

He said that his mind would be racing with thoughts about hockey as he led the Swedish contingent across the B.C. Place floor. He said he would be thinking of so many different people during the march.

"Probably all my friends back home in Sweden," he said. "I guess also the people that helped me be where I am."

Team USA Olympian Jack Johnson chartered a plan from Los Angeles so he could take part in the Opening Ceremonies. He brought his family -- mom and dad and his 11-year-old brother -- along for the ride.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them," he said. "It's a privilege to be able to march alongside all these athletes from the United States. It's an experience I will never forget -- once in a lifetime."

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Czechs relish underdog role
2.12.2010 / 3:20 PM ET

A dozen years ago, the Czech Republic was at top of the Olympic hockey mountain, winning gold at the 1998 Games in Japan, the first time NHLers were welcome in the tournament.

Today, on the eve of the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the Czechs aren't even in the conversation for most people when they discuss the potential medalists in the tournament. While many might consider that a fall from grace, Jaromir Jagr said after Friday's Team Czech practice that he fully understands that sentiment.

"When you look at stats, we are not (the favorites)," Jagr said. "If you ask any player from our team if we can win gold; me or any other player from our team will answer, 'Yes, we have a chance and it would be bad if we told the opposite -- because, if you don't believe in yourself, you shouldn't be here. That's the bottom line."

Jagr and the rest of the Czechs can believe in themselves all they want, but this team has deficiencies, including the lack of a big-time scorer. In fact, the CzechRepublic has just one player on its roster -- Ottawa's Milan Michalek -- who has scored 20 goals in the NHL this season.

The lack of explosive offense will hamstring the Czechs when they play top powers like Canada and Russia, as well as gold-medal holders, Sweden

"If we going to play Canada 10 times, the maximum we beat them is once, maybe twice," Jagr said.

Then, he added an important caveat in true Jagr-like fashion.

"But it might be this time. You never know," he said.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Injury updates
2.12.2010 / 3:20 PM ET

Olympic GMs are waiting with bated breath as the NHL marches toward the Olympic Break, hoping that their rostered players survive without injuries.

Thursday night was not an easy night for either the Finnish or Slovakian teams in that regard.

First, Slovakia's Miroslav Satan was felled in Boston's game against Tampa Bay, injuring himself in a scuffle with Tampa Bay tough guy Steve Downie.

Satan hurt his hand during the first-period fracas with Downie. He did not play in the rest of the game. Afterward, Boston coach Claude Julien said that Satan cut his hand on a skate. Boston plays Florida in its final pre-Olympic break game Saturday and is practicing Friday afternoon in Sunshine, Fla. But, Satan was sent back to Boston, suggesting he won't play in that final game.

Early reports have the team saying that Satan did not suffer tendon damage in the hand.

But, Satan is not the only player that Slovakia is watching. New York Ranger forward Marian Gaborik is also dealing with the fallout of a skate cut.

Gaborik cut his knee in practice this week when he collided with goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who will play for Team Sweden. He did not play in Wednesday's loss to the Predators. He took part in Friday morning's skate, before a road game against Pittsburgh, but said he would be a game-time decision because he is having trouble generating power because of the tightness of the 21 stitches in his right thigh.

But, Slovakian coach Jan Filc said Thursday afternoon here in Vancouver that he expects Gaborik to be available for Slovakia's first game -- against rival Czech Republic.

"I am sure it is not so bad," Filc told AFP. "The word coming out of the Rangers' locker room is it is not so serious. And maybe he will only miss one game."

Meanwhile, Finland is waiting for an update on forward Jere Lehtinen, who left Thursday night's game against Calgary with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot.

Lehtinen, hoping to make his fifth Olympic appearance, isn't expected to miss the Games because of the injury, though.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Lost Morning
2.12.2010 / 2:00 PM ET

Well, the Olympics are all about improvisation and manageable expectations.

I certainly got a lesson in that today.

The problem started when I did not do the proper amount of research and assumed something that was incorrect. Well, we all know what happens when you assume, don't we?

I made the assumption that any hockey practices not at Canada Hockey Place would be at the University of British Columbia, the other official hockey venue. It was a logical assumption, but wrong nonetheless.

It seems that the non-CHP practices are taking place at the Britiannia Centre right here in downtown, just three miles from my hotel. That would have been a five-minute cab ride at 7:30 a.m.

Instead, I walked to the main Media Centre, caught the once-an-hour bus to UBC, watched my bus driver become lost and close to apoplectic and then arrived at UBC at 8:45. As usual, I set off the metal detector trying to get into the venue and then found out I was at wrong place.

It was back on the bus (same bus driver) to get back to MMC by 9:30, just late enough to miss Norway's post-practice availability -- which was the whole reason for this morning's little adventure.

Alas, I will get Norway at Saturday's practice session. Plus, I am far wiser in the ways of Olympic transportation. So, I have that going for me.

Will be at CHP later this afternoon for Czech Republic practice. Should have a Jaromir Jagr update. Stay tuned.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Flagging this item 
02.12.2010 / 9:04 a.m. ET

Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics is just more than 10 hours away. One of tonight's many highlights will be seeing the flag bearer for each country in the parade of nations. Agence France is reporting at least seven hockey players in the flag mix: Former NHLers Ville Peltonen (Finland), Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Peter Forsberg (Sweden), Ziggy Palffy (Slovakia) and Alexei Morozov (Russia), plus Tommy Jakobsen (Norway) and Oleg Antonenko (Belarus).

"It is very big for me," three-time medal winner Peltonen, 36, told Agence France. "I have been a sports fan since I was a little kid watching the Olympics and I am sure when I am carrying the flag I will remember all of the memories I have had from watching the Olympics."

Slovakia holding its breath
02.11.2010 / 10:45 p.m. ET

Boston forward Miroslav Satan left Thursday night's game against Tampa Bay with an undisclosed injury.

According to reports, it appears that Satan was injured in a scuffle with Tampa Bay's Steve Downie early in the contest after Downie objected to a check thrown by Satan.

Slovakia is counting on the veteran Satan to provide some firepower up front when the Olympics start next week.

Satan has a pair of goals and 5 points in 17 games since signing as a midseason free agent with the Bruins. He appeared to be rounding into form lately and looked primed to make another strong showing for his country in international competition.

Now, though, there has to be some concern about his availability for these Olympics. We'll continue to follow this story right up until final rosters are submitted on Feb. 15.

--Shawn P. Roarke

First impressions
02.11.2010 / 10:45 p.m. ET

Wow, am I glad I brought my walking shoes! Too bad I forgot my raincoat.

This is my advice for the rest of the NHL.com crew that will be making their way out here in the next few days. Bring some very comfortable shoes, because there is a lot of walking in this city (I easily put three of four miles on the pedometer in just a few hours this afternoon).

Also, make sure you have some waterproof clothing. I landed at around 12:30 p.m. Thursday and it has been raining since I arrived -- although it is preferable to the 15 inches of snow I left back in Jersey this morning. The locals I talked to said they are having an abnormally wet winter here.

But aside from the wet weather, Vancouver is ready for these Olympics from what I have seen.

The places I visited in my whirlwind tour -- the accreditation office, the MainMediaCenter, The International Broadcast Center (courtesy of NBC's Pam Barone) and the Canada Place facilities -- were all top-notch.

The main Media Center is right on the water. It is like sitting on a cruise ship at dock before the start of a 17-day adventure. In fact, while I was waiting for Pam, I watched a seaplane take off right in the bat out the MMC window. Just fantastic.

The IBC, meanwhile, is an underground labyrinth of epic proportions. I got lost more than once as we did the tour of NBC's impressive facilities. I got a tour of their nerve center and the scope of their assets is almost beyond comprehension. It is, simply, a small city.

Canada Place has been scrubbed of most of its Vancouver Canucks touches already. The press tribunal was being finished Thursday afternoon as we toured our positions in the mixed-media zone. It is quite the gauntlet the players will have to walk after every game and practice at CP. Let's put it this way: We are in position No. 7 -- and we are at the front of the line.

It should be interesting, that's for sure.

Friday will be another busy day as I hit the ground running. We might try to catch up with Jack Johnson, who is flying in to march in the Opening Ceremonies. Or we might trek out to the University of British Columbia and catch a few practices from teams that already have players in Vancouver.

Whatever way I play it, you will get all the details right here or on my twitter feed at sroarke_nhl.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Gretzky not final torchbearer?
02.11.2010 / 09:30 p.m. ET

It seems that it might not be Wayne Gretzky who lights the Olympic cauldron during Friday's Opening Ceremonies at B.C. Place.

At least that was the tune VANOC CEO John Furlong was trying to play today.

"It's one of those challenges you have where only one or two people can know, or it isn't going to stay locked down," Furlong said during an interview with Global national on Thursday. "And I have gone to bed and woke up every day for the last 90 days praying I wouldn't see it on the front page of the paper -- and so far it hasn't.

"And so far I can tell you this: you can think about this as long as you'd like and you can think about the last moments of the ceremonies as long as you'd like and you're not going to figure it out."

That statement would seem to rule out the Great One, who has been widely rumored to be the torch lighter for months. Those rumors only intensified when Gretzky showed up in Vancouver on Wednesday. But Forlund's statement clearly puts a damper on those expectations and reignites one of the most entertaining arguments in Canada for the past several months.

The world will now have to wait a little more than 24 hours before this pressing question is finally answered -- which is how it should be.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Carter will be next in line

02.11.2010 / 11:30 a.m. ET

It appears Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman isn't going to take any chances with Ryan Getzlaf's bum ankle.

In a statement from Hockey Canada early Thursday morning, Yzerman admitted he contacted Philadelphia Flyers center Jeff Carter and informed him to be ready in case he gets the nod to join his Canadian Olympic teammates in Vancouver.

"I contacted Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers and advised him that in the event that Ryan Getzlaf is unable to take part in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games due to injury, he will take his spot on the roster," Yzerman wrote. "I asked him to be ready and prepare in case he has to join us in Vancouver later this week."

Getzlaf sprained his ankle on Monday and is using a protective boot. He hopes to play this weekend or go through a full practice on Friday in Calgary. All teams participating in the Olympics must declare their lineup by Monday.

Getzlaf hopes to be in the lineup Saturday when Anaheim plays the Flames or Sunday in Edmonton.

"All signs are showing to things progressing the way we want them to," Getzlaf told the media following his team's 3-2 win over the Oilers on Wednesday. "Obviously we have our fingers crossed if things keep going the same way and we don't have any setbacks. When I woke up (Wednesday) morning, I was walking a lot better. I'm off the crutches and all that stuff. All those things point in the right direction."

--Mike G. Morreale

Getzlaf to play Saturday?
02.10.2010 / 4:34 p.m. ET

No one can ever call Ryan Getzlaf a pessimist.

According to the Ducks web-site, the injured Canadian center was wearing a protective boot with a device tucked in it for stimulation Wednesday morning when he told the media that his goal is to skate this weekend and maybe play Saturday or Sunday.

Getzlaf has to convince Hockey Canada executives that he'll be 100 percent in the Olympics, so you can understand his eagerness to get back on the ice.

"Skating Friday or Saturday is our goal right now," Getzlaf said. "Hopefully I can play Sunday or even Saturday, for that matter. Those definitely are the goals right now, to progress this week, stay off it for the next couple of days, then maybe put the skates on Friday or Saturday.

"All signs are point to things progressing to the way we want it to. We have our fingers crossed and hopefully things will keep going the same way and we don't have any setbacks."

Getzlaf is off the crutches he was using and said he is walking without pain, though he is wearing a boot and has electrical stimulation running into his ankle.

"Obviously, I have the boot on still, but that's just protecting it and making sure I don't do any more damage," he said. "I woke up this morning and was walking a lot better and I'm off the crutches and all that stuff, so everything is pointing in the right direction."

Yzerman has told NHL.com he will wait and see on Getzlaf before making a determination. He has to submit his final roster by Monday, but he would like to have it finalized before then if at all possible.

-- Dan Rosen

Gaborik reportedly out if Rangers play
02.10.2010 / 12:59 p.m. ET

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports this afternoon that if the Rangers play Nashville tonight at Madison Square Garden, leading scorer Marian Gaborik will not be in the lineup after suffering a laceration on his right thigh during Tuesday's practice.

Gaborik, who is headed to the Olympics to play for Team Slovakia, had a mishap with Henrik Lundqvist and left the ice limping. Brooks is saying that Gaborik might be out of the Rangers last three games before the Olympics, but that's speculation right now.

With the Northeast being blanketed by a blizzard, the Rangers are still scheduled to play tonight but the game could be postponed if New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg issues a state of emergency for the area.

-- Dan Rosen

Getzlaf's health main topic of Team Canada call
02.10.2010 / 11:41 a.m. ET

TSN's Darren Dreger is reporting that Team Canada's executive brass will be holding a conference call sometime in the afternoon to discuss the health of Ryan Getzlaf (sprained left ankle).

Executive Director Steve Yzerman has already told NHL.com that Getzlaf is day to day and they will continue to monitor his progress. As Dreger writes, it's possible that Canada keeps Getzlaf on the roster but sits him for the first two or three games in order to give him more time to heal before the tournament really heats up.

That makes a lot of sense considering Getzlaf is in line to be Canada's No. 2 center and there isn't another one out there that plays with the kind of power he does. Getzlaf has also played under pressure in the Stanley Cup Finals and won.

Getzlaf, of course, will have to get on the ice at least by this coming weekend for Canada to keep him. Yzerman doesn't have to submit his final roster until Monday, but he has said that he wants to give any replacement players time to prepare for the Olympics.

Preparation does not necessarily mean playing, but it involves family and other issues not related with being on the ice.

-- Dan Rosen

Franzen looks good, Sweden want him?
02.10.2010 / 10:57 a.m. ET

Johan Franzen had an assist, four shots on goal and three hits in his first game in four months since suffering a left knee injury in the third game of the season. He played 25 shifts Tuesday night in St. Louis totaling an economical 17:28 of ice time.

"It felt like the last game I played," he told the Detroit Free Press. "It felt good. I thought it was going to be worse, so hopefully it'll feel good next game."

Franzen is not currently on Sweden's Olympic roster, but he could be soon. He was supposed to call Sweden coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson following Tuesday's game to give him an update and he is also supposed to call the coach after the Red Wings next game, Thursday against San Jose at Joe Louis Arena.

Sweden doesn't have to submit its final roster until Monday, so there is still time to put Franzen on in replace of someone else, possibly Peter Forsberg, whose foot problems may be cropping up again.

Two Swedes that didn't play in the Red Wings game Tuesday night are Tomas Holmstrom and Niklas Kronwall. Both are supposed to play in the Olympics, so we'll have to closely monitor their situations as well.

Franzen could potentially replace his own teammate, Holmstrom.

-- Dan Rosen

Canadian replacements?

02.10.2010 / 9:35 a.m. ET

If Ryan Getzlaf is unable to join Team Canada in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, the team's Executive Director, Steve Yzerman, might have two great options raring to go from the Sunshine State.

In case you haven't been paying attention, Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis not only recorded his 650th career point in a 3-1 victory over the Canucks on Tuesday, but he extended his point-scoring streak to seven games. The Lightning won for the eighth time in their last 11 and moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. St. Louis (20 goals, 66 points this season) has 7 goals and 11 points in his last seven games.

Second-year pro Steven Stamkos, meanwhile, has recorded points in a career-high 10 straight games (8 goals, 16 points) after notching a goal and one assist in the victory. Stamkos has 33 goals, 63 points and 14 power-play goals in 58 games this season.

Yzerman told NHL.com that he would monitor Getzlaf's (sprained left ankle) progress and make a decision this weekend. Getzlaf has already told reporters that he was feeling better and doesn't expect to miss the Olympics.

--Mike G. Morreale

No damage to Getzlaf's ankle
2.9.2010 / 9:50 PM ET

"My ankle feels much better today and I'm relieved the test showed no significant damage. My goal is to return to the ice this week for the Ducks, and I look forward to joining Team Canada for the Olympics on Monday."
-- Ryan Getzlaf

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf underwent an MRI this afternoon on his sprained left ankle. The test showed no significant ligament or muscle tears, and Getzlaf is day-to-day. Following the MRI, Getzlaf made the following statement:
"My ankle feels much better today and I'm relieved the test showed no significant damage. My goal is to return to the ice this week for the Ducks, and I look forward to joining Team Canada for the Olympics on Monday."

Getzlaf, though, is not out of the woods yet. If he's going to play in the Olympics, he has to be 100 percent healthy, or darn close to it.
"He is day to day," Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman told NHL.com via text message. "We will monitor his progress and if needed make a decision over the weekend."

--Dan Rosen

Franzen still kicking for a spot
2.9.2010 / 5:00 PM ET

Johan "the Mule" Franzen might be an Olympian next Monday after all.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Swedish Olympic coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson has asked Franzen to contact him following Tuesday night's Red Wings' game at St. Louis to give him an update on Franzen's status after a lengthy absence. The burly right wing will play his first game since Oct. 8, when Franzen torn the ACL in his left knee in the third game of the season.

"I'm going to call him after the game and tell him how I felt," Franzen told the Free Press, "and then talk to him after the next game."

Franzen, an Olympian in 2006, was not named to Sweden's roster provisional roster due to the ailment.

The 30-year old Franzen has one goal and one assist in three games thus far.

--Rocky Bonanno

Gaborik can't jump high enough
02.09.2010 /3:28 p.m. ET

Rangers and Team Slovakia forward Marian Gaborik left the ice during today's practice after suffering a lacerated right knee. During a breakaway drill, Gaborik tried to hurdle Henrik Lundqvist, but didn't quite make it safely over the goalie; Lundqvist's skate cut Gaborik's knee, and he limped off the ice.

The Rangers reported their leading scorer stayed at their practice site and received stitches, but no X-rays or MRI was taken.

Assistant GM/coach Jim Schoenfeld -- who was running practice while coach John Tortorella was at the funeral for Brendan Burke -- would not say whether Gaborik would be available for tomorrow's game against Nashville.

"It would be a guess," Schoenfeld told reporters. "And I would rather not guess."

Gaborik is fourth in the League with 35 goals and sixth with 69 points.

-- Adam Kimelman

Getzlaf still hopeful, Yzerman won't speculate

02.09.2010 /3:02 p.m. ET

Ryan Getzlaf met with the media at Honda Center before going for an MRI on his sprained left ankle, an injury he suffered in the second period of Monday's game when he got tangled with Kings forward and Team USA representative Dustin Brown. You can view the play here.

Getzlaf is hoping he can play for the Ducks this coming weekend, but of course he'll know more after the test results are back. He said he doesn't have much swelling in his ankle.

Getzlaf also said he has spoken to Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman and understands the predicament Yzerman is now in.

"Mr. Yzerman made it clear they're going to do everything they can to wait and make sure it's well," Getzlaf said. "At the same time, he's got to protect his team, too. I'm definitely not going to go play in a tournament that I'm not ready to play in, especially a tournament of that caliber. I'm going to do everything possible to be there."

In a text message to NHL.com, Yzerman said that it's "too early to speculate on replacement players." He, like everyone else, is waiting for the rest results.

"Mr. Yzerman made it clear they're going to do everything they can to wait and make sure it's well. At the same time, he's got to protect his team, too. I'm definitely not going to go play in a tournament that I'm not ready to play in, especially a tournament of that caliber. I'm going to do everything possible to be there."
-- Ryan Getzlaf

Here's how Getzlaf describe the way in which he was hurt, according to the Ducks web-site:

"I made a little pass back and ended up tucking my ankle underneath me. With the way the play went and the way it felt, it was definitely a scary time. Last night was tough for me. This morning, it looked really positive. My meetings with our trainers so far have gone really well. I’m crossing my fingers going to get the MRI this afternoon.

"I don’t think it’s what they call a high ankle sprain because that from what I understand that is a little higher than where mine is. It’s a great thing. I’m really positive this morning and hope for the best. We’ll see how things go from here. I’ll be in contact with the doctors all day. We’ll probably know a little bit more tomorrow."

-- Dan Rosen

Getzlaf sprains ankle, Yzerman waiting for test results

02.09.2010 /9:12 a.m. ET

Ducks and Canada center Ryan Getzlaf left Honda Center on crutches Monday night after spraining his left ankle. His foot was in a protective boot and he is supposed to be reevaluated by team doctors today.

X-rays taken at the arena revealed no broken bones, but reports indicate that Getzlaf is supposed to undergo an MRI today.

Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman told NHL.com via a text message that he is "waiting for test results" before making a determination on Getzlaf's availability for the Olympics. Yzerman would have until Feb. 15 to replace Getzlaf on the roster.

Should Getzlaf not be able to play in the Olympics, the list of potential replacements likely includes Steven Stamkos, Brad Richards and Jeff Carter. If Yzerman wanted to replace him with a winger, he could look at Martin St. Louis, Shane Doan or Patrick Sharp.

"Hopefully, he won't be out too long," Ducks and Canada captain Scott Niedermayer said. "I don't have to say what he means to this team and what he does for us, so hopefully it's not bad.

"I haven't really thought about (the Olympics), to be honest," Niedermayer added. "I know he would love to play, but we don't know how badly hurt he is right now. Hopefully he's in our lineup in two nights (against Edmonton)."

-- Dan Rosen

Blackhawks handicap their respective Olympic teams

02.08.2010 / 10:40 a.m. ET

Chicago Blackhawks forwards Tomas Kopecky and Patrick Kane and defenseman Duncan Keith are looking forward to international competition in Vancouver. Especially now with just three games remaining before the Olympic break.

And while no player will publicly admit to looking ahead at this point, perhaps the Blackhawks can since the team is sitting second in the Western Conference with 38 wins and 81 points.

Kopecky, who'll join Team Slovakia in a group that includes Russia, Czech Republic and Latvia, feels his first Olympic experience will be a memorable one.

"I think we have a good team," Kopecky admitted. "We have a good balance of the young guys and the older generation. (Goaltender) Jaroslav Halak of Montreal is playing great. We have lots of good guys who can score with (Marian) Hossa, (Marian) Gaborik, (Pavol) Demitra and all those guys. I'm pretty sure we're going to meld as a team together. Each guy is going to find a role on the team,and we're going to be all of us pulling from the same end. I think we have a good chance."

Kane, who leads the Blackhawks in goals (22) and points (62) this season, happens to be the youngest player on Team USA's roster. And despite the fact much has been made of the Russians and Team Canada, he feels the American Team shouldn't be overlooked.

"Going in, I think we're ranked fifth," he said. "We feel we have a pretty good team, especially for a tournament like this. We have maybe the best goaltending in the tournament (with Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick). Sometimes goaltending wins these kinds of tournaments."

Then there's Keith, another first-time Olympian. The 26-year-old blue liner, who has 11 goals, 51 points and a plus-22 rating with Chicago this season, feels that team able to develop chemistry from the outset will be successful.

"On paper everything looks good, but it's important we develop chemistry and that team attitude right away," he said. "In a short tournament when it's one game take all, you have to be at your best every night. You can't afford to have any slip-ups. There are so many great teams that are going. Every team is going to be tough,so it's definitely going to be a challenge."

--Mike G. Morreale

Forsberg rounding into form
2.5.2010 / 10:10 AM ET

Peter Forsberg is back from his latest bout with injury (a rib problem) and playing with MoDo as he prepares for another shot at Olympic glory.

According to reports out of Sweden, Forsberg is playing a regular shift and working hard to get into peak shape for when Sweden leaves for the Olympics next week. In 14 games, he has 17 points and has impressed many obsertvers with his work rate.

"He looks good in practices, he's getting more physical and isn't afraid to do anything," was the report Hannu Aravita, the former Team Finland coach, gave Expressen newspaper on Thursday. The translation was provided by NHL.com's man in Sweden, Risto Pakarinen. "It's good to see, but he has to stay patient."

Patience will be a key it seems as even Forsberg ahs talked about his propensity to take foolish penalties or get too worked up on the ice. According to Expressen, Forsberg has taken to writing the phrase "calm down" on his mouthpiece to keep his on-ice temper in check.

"But then I get on the ice and yell at the ref anyway...," Forsberg was quoted as saying in Expressen.

Also, it appears the injury bug won't leave Forsberg alone. Thursday night, he injured his pinky in a game and may miss Saturday's contest. But, the hand injury should not be a concern for the Olympics.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Marching orders for Kings' Johnson
2.5.2010 / 9:06 AM ET

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson believes the Olympics are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he wants to experience more than just the hockey.

So, he has chartered a plane to Vancouver on Feb. 12 to take part in the Opening Ceremony as part of the Team USA delegation. He will most likely be the only men's team player to march in the delegation, although Team USA GM Brian Burke, the GM of Team USA, also plans to take part.

The Kings play Thursday and Saturday, but are off on Friday, the day of the Opening Ceremony. Johnson was given permission to skip what is expected to be a light practice to make the two-hour flight to Vancouver. He will return Friday night right after the ceremony.

According to Helene Elliott at the Los Angeles Times, Johnson offered to take along teammates Jon Quick and Dustin Brown, both of whom will play for Team USA. But, both players passed on the invitation. Johnson also offered Anaheim's Bobby Ryan a lift, but the Duck forward passed as well.

"I've watched them before, and it's part of the experience of the Olympics," Johnson said. "It’s unfortunate most hockey players won’t get to do it, but the stars kind of aligned for me to be able to do it."

"We don’t play that day. The Olympics happen to be only a two-hour flight away, and I figure it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m going to take every advantage of it I can."

Burke is operating under the same thought process. His Maple Leafs will be in St. Louis next Friday, but Burke will be in Vancouver marching through BC Place with thousands of Olympians from across the globe.

In a conference call Thursday afternoon, Burke called marching in the ceremonies one of the "pinch-me moments" in what has already been a rich hockey life and said he couldn't be prouder to represent Team USA. 

In fact, he said that if his Maple Leafs don't make the playoffs, he would be happy to be a part of USA Hockey's contingent at this spring's World Championships. And, he doesn't even need to be the GM.

"I told them, if they need a bus driver, I will get my Class A license," Burke said.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Twin power for Sweden
2.5.2010 / 8:44 AM ET

Ottawa forward Daniel Alfredsson might just be paired as the off wing on a line with Vancouver's Henrik and Daniel Sedin when he reports to Team Sweden next week for Olympic duty in Vancouver.

So, he has been playing close attention to why the Sedins -- identical twins born six minutes apart 29 years ago -- are having the success they are with Alex Burrows this season with the Canucks. In fact, that unit may be the best first line in the game at the moment and Henrik sits second in the League with 78 points, passed Thursday night by Washington's Alex Ovechkin.

Here is Alfredsson's observation, as relayed to Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail:

"They toy with you in the sense that they play with the puck with such composure," Alfredsson says. "They find each other. They play on the outside, kind of just drag you away from the net and then they find an opening.

"It's hard to play against, especially now that you can't hook and hold. … They're so good at protecting the puck, its tough to get at them. … You don't see them 'cause they don't have that much speed – they won't burn you wide.

"Their deceptiveness and vision of the ice is as good as anybody."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Elias back to skating
2.4.2010 / 4:00 PM ET

Forward Patrik Elias of the Devils and the captain of the Czech Republic Olympic entry returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion on Jan. 16 at Colorado, reports Tom Gulitti in his blog for the Bergen Record.

Coach Jacques Lemaire said Elias is "not ready" to return to game action, and Elias said he didn't know if he would be able to play against Toronto on Friday.

Gulitti reports Elias was not able to make it through the full practice and appeared winded. "I felt pretty good actually," Elias said. "It was a great first day for me."

Elias admitted he got tired, "a little bit at the end."

"That's why I kind of just stopped," he said.

Lemaire talked to the team trainer after Elias, then informed the media he didn't think that Elias would be ready to face the Maple Leafs. "Not ready," Lemaire said. "There's a process that you have to go through before a guy comes back and plays and that's what he's doing right now. He's going through that process."

Elias, however, did not rule out playing Friday. "I don't know," he said. "Maybe tomorrow morning we'll see. I think it's just day-by-day. I was pleased with the first day. I felt really good for the first half hour and then obviously (with) endurance, I got a little bit tired and just was smart about it."

Elias said getting back in time to play in the Olympics has not been part of his thought process.

"I didn't think about it, to be honest, throughout the whole thing if it is possible to miss it or not," he said. "There's still a lot of time before the Olympics is going to start (Feb. 16 for the NHL players) and I've responded every time the way I'm supposed to. So, I'm just thinking about getting back here to play quickly and just be part of the team again here and do the job here."

--Rocky Bonanno

Whitney honored to be a part of Team USA
2.4.2010 / 3:13 PM ET

Here's Ryan Whitney's take on being named to Team USA today:

"It'll be amazing. I've played for my country before and it's quite a feeling. It's really a feeling like no other. You have a lot of pride and you're just happy to be a part of the team that is representing your nation. I can't wait. I mean, I'm so excited and I think it's going to be quite an experience."

-- Dan Rosen

Whitney, Gleason in for Team USA
2.4.2010 / 3:13 PM ET

USA Hockey announced Thursday afternoon that Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason will be named as replacements to Team USA, replacing Mike Komisarek and Paul Martin.

The selection of Carolina's Gleason and Anaheim's Whitney come as little surprise as both attended this summer's Olympic Orientation camp, hosted by USA Hockey, in Chicago.

Both New Jersey's Martin and Toronto's Komisarek were forced to drop off the 23-man roster named by USA Hockey on Jan. 1 because of slow-healing injuries.

Martin, a puck-moving defenseman, played only nine games before breaking his forearm after being struck by a shot from Pittsburgh's Bill Guerin. He decided against surgery initially, but the bone did not heal properly and he underwent surgery to have plates inserted to expedite the healing process. But, he saw the doctor this week and it will be at least another two weeks before he is ready for contact.

Komisarek hurt his shoulder Jan. 2 and the injury has not responded to treatment. There is now discussion that the big, physical defenseman may now be facing season-ending surgery. He consulted with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews last week before opting out of Team USA consideration.

Team USA management has been contemplating replacements for the past couple of weeks as Martin and Komisarek raced against the clock to return in time. The debate raged well into this week before Whitney, a puck-moving defenseman, and Gleason, a solid two-way player, were chosen as the replacements from a pool of considered players that also included Rob Scuderi of the Los Angeles Kings and Ron Hainsey of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Whitney will replace Martin's offensive contribution, but does not have the same stellar reputation in his own end. Just 26, Whitney is playing more than 24 minutes a game for the surging Ducks and has 24 points. Three of his four goals this season have come on the power play.

Whitney was a member of the 2008 Penguins team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final, registering 6 points and a plus-8 rating in 20 playoff games.

Gleason, who does a little bit of everything for the Hurricanes, also has some good playoff experience, making an 18-game run to the Eastern Conference Finals with Carolina last season. He had a goal and 4 assists in that run.

This season, Gleason is on pace for a record year in scoring. He has 15 points, including a career-high 5 goals, in 46 games. Gleason scored a career-best 21 points, back with the Kings in 2005-06. Ironically, he was part of the trade with Carolina that landed Los Angeles Jack Johnson, another Team USA blueliner.

With Carolina this season, Gleason ranks second among the team's defenseman with 89 blocked shots. He has also dealt out 119 hits, and average of 2.5 hits per game.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Olympic colors
2.4.2010 / 2:10 PM ET

We're all so accustomed to seeing Sidney Crosby in the familiar black and gold of the Penguins, but to help hockey fans prepare for the Olympics, Pittsburgh's team Web site gives us a glimpse of how Sid and teammates will look wearing their national team jerseys.

At this link you can view photos of Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar (Russia), Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada), and Brooks Orpik (United States) modeling the uni's they'll wear in Vancouver beginning Feb. 16.

"This is very special and something that again you grow up (wanting)," Crosby said. "I remember watching in Salt Lake and wanting to be a part of the Olympics. It is more than just hockey you are talking about. It is a celebration of sports throughout the world."

Malkin was more succinct. "I am very excited," he said. "We have a very good team."

Whitney, Gleason in for Team USA
2.4.2010 / 12:17 PM ET

USA Hockey is hosting a conference call this afternoon and multiple media outlets are reporting that Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason will be named as replacements to Team USA, replacing Mike Komisarek and Paul Martin.

The selection of Carolina's Gleason and Anaheim's Whitney come as little surprise as both attended this summer's Olympic Orientation camp, hosted by USA Hockey, in Chicago.

Both New Jersey's Martin and Toronto's Komisarek were forced to drop off the 23-man roster named by USA Hockey on Jan. 1 because of slow-healing injuries.

Martin, a puck-moving defenseman, played only nine games before breaking his forearm after being struck by a shot from Pittsburgh's Bill Guerin. He decided against surgery initially, but the bone did not heal properly and he underwent surgery to have plates inserted to expedite the healing process. But, he saw the doctor this week and it will be at least another two weeks before he is ready for contact.

Komisarek hurt his shoulder Jan. 2 and the injury has not responded to treatment. There is now discussion that the big, physical defenseman may now be facing season-ending surgery. He consulted with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews last week before opting out of Team USA consideration.

Team USA management has been contemplating replacements for the past couple of weeks as Martin and Komisarek raced against the clock to return in time. The debate raged well into this week before Whitney, a puck-moving defenseman, and Gleason, a solid two-way player, were chosen as the replacements from a pool of considered players that also included Rob Scuderi of the Los Angeles Kings and Ron Hainsey of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Whitney will replace Martin's offensive contribution, but does not have the same stellar reputation in his own end. Just 26, Whitney is playing more than 24 minutes a game for the surging Ducks and has 24 points. Three of his four goals this season have come on the power play.

Whitney was a member of the 2008 Penguins team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final, registering 6 points and a plus-8 rating in 20 playoff games.

Gleason, who does a little bit of everything for the Hurricanes, also has some good playoff experience, making an 18-game run to the Eastern Conference Finals with Carolina last season. He had a goal and 4 assists in that run.

This season, Gleason is on pace for a record year in scoring. He has 15 points, including a career-high 5 goals, in 46 games. Gleason scored a career-best 21 points, back with the Kings in 2005-06. Ironically, he was part of the trade with Carolina that landed Los Angeles Jack Johnson, another Team USA blueliner.

With Carolina this season, Gleason ranks second among the team's defenseman with 89 blocked shots. He has also dealt out 119 hits, and average of 2.5 hits per game.

-- Shawn P. Roarke

Kronwall nicked up again
2.4.2010 / 12:17 PM ET

Detroit defenseman Nik Kronwall did not play Wednesday night for the Red Wings in a 3-1 loss to Anaheim, but there is little reason for Team Sweden to be too nervous at the moment.

It appears that Kronwall tweaked the injury to his left leg, a MCL sprain that sidelined him for 30 games, when he got tangled up with San Jose's Scott Nichol in Tuesday's game, his fifth since the injury.

"I know he was frustrated last night when we got on the plane," Detroit GM Ken Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. "The leg started to bother him after two periods, and we pulled him.

It was, though, a purely precautionary move.

"He's day-to-day, but it's nothing significant," Holland said.

Detroit doesn't play again until Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Injury bind plagues Belarus
2.4.2010 / 10:25 AM ET

Mike Komisarek is not the only Toronto Maple Leaf that will not play in the Olympics. Lost in the hubbub surrounding the Komisarek announcement was Toronto coach Ron Wilson also announcing that Mikhail Grabovski will also not be ready to join Belarus in time for the Olympics.

Grabovski broke his wrist on Jan. 2, but there was hope he could return right before the start of the Olympics. In fact, Grabovski's cast came off earlier this week, but the injury has not healed enough for team doctors to clear the Belarusian for game action.

Grabovski, 26, scored 20 goals last season and had 25 points in 47 games before the injury this season. He was one of four NHL players from Belarus to be named to the Olympics and, unfortunately, he may be joined by two of those players on the injured list for the Olympics.

Andrei Kostitsyn underwent knee surgery in early January and is expected to be sidelined six weeks, put him just past the Feb. 15 date for final roster submissions to the IIHF for the Olympics.

Meanwhile, Colorado defenseman Ruslan Salei has been bothered by back issues all season and has just recently started skating for the Avalanche. It is unlikely, though, that he can get in game shape in 11 days.

That means Sergei Kostitsyn -- Andrei's brother -- is the only healthy Belarusian on a NHL roster at the moment. Sergei Kostitsyn, though, is fresh off injury himself. He missed 10 games with a lwer-body injury before returning Jan. 23. He has one goal and one assist in the five games since his return.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Scratch Komisarek
2.3.2010 / 9:25 AM ET

Team USA's defense took another hit on Wednesday when the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Mike Komisarek will have season-ending shoulder surgery that will keep him out of the Winter Olympics.

Komisarek hasn't played since Jan. 2 in Calgary, but he been skating and was hoping to get medical clearance to return to the ice for the Leafs in their last four pre-Olympic games. Instead, the team announced that his season was over.

"Our team doctors have recommended this after a determined effort to rehab the injury without surgery. Having this done immediately is the right thing to do for the Leafs. I am truly sorry that I will not be able to represent my country at the Olympics," Komisarek said

It's been a tough first season in Toronto for Komisarek, who signed with the Leafs as an unrestricted free agent last summer after spending five seasons with Toronto. He had just 3 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 34 games.

With Komisarek and New Jersey's Paul Martin both having to withdraw this week due to injuries, Team USA has two holes on the blue line.

-- John Kreiser

Hitch can turn focus solely to Team Canada

2.3.2010 / 4:55 PM ET

Now that the Columbus Blue Jackets have fired Ken Hitchcock, he can be a great asset to Team Canada coach Mike Babcock and Executive Director Steve Yzerman in the next two weeks.

Hitchcock is an assistant on Babcock's Olympic staff along with Jacques Lemaire and Lindy Ruff. He will be the only one who isn't busy in these days leading up to the Olympics, so he could be dispatched on scouting missions across the League.

Perhaps Hitchcock might show up Sunday at the Capitals-Penguins game in D.C., where he can watch Russians Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar as well as Czech center Tomas Fleischmann, USA defenseman Brooks Orpik and Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom. He could also get a vibe from Canadians like Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury.

That wouldn't be a bad starting off point.

Now, granted, these are some of the top players in the NHL and everybody already knows what they could do, but scouting never hurts anybody. I'm just speculating, mind you. We don't know anything right now.

It should be noted that in 2002, Dallas fired Hitchcock 50 games into the season, meaning just before the Olympic break. Hitchcock was an assistant on Pat Quinn's staff that year, and Canada wound up winning gold.

Wouldn't Canada love history to repeat itself.

-- Dan Rosen

Kronwall hurt again, will miss game

2.3.2010 / 3:15 PM ET

Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall left Tuesday's game in San Jose during the third period after reportedly injuring his ankle and injuring his left leg. Kronwall missed two months (30 games) with an injury to his left knee and was only five games into his return.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock, who will also coach Team Canada at the Olympics, said that Kronwall will not play Wednesday night in Anaheim. Babcock said Kronwall "got slew-footed early in the game."

Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press that Kronwall was outwardly frustrated with the situation.

"He got injured on our first goal, when Scott Nichol kind of took his legs out from under him, slew-footed him, and Nik got his leg behind him," Holland said. "The leg started to bother him after two periods, and we pulled him. To what I know, he's day-to-day."

-- Dan Rosen

Boyle misses fifth straight game, Yzerman not worried

2.3.2010 / 11:00 AM ET

Canadian defenseman Dan Boyle missed his fifth straight game Tuesday night when the Sharks lost to Detroit, 4-2, but Team Canada Executive Director Steve Yzerman told NHL.com in a text message that he's not concerned about Boyle's status for the Olympics.

"Spoke with him last week," Yzerman wrote to NHL.com. "Should be back any day. Don't expect it to be a problem."

Boyle has been day-to-day with this nagging upper body injury since Jan. 21. Starting Thursday in St. Louis, the Sharks will play six straight road games heading into the Olympic break.

Boyle will presumably be back soon enough to get in a few of those games before heading to Vancouver to represent Team Canada.

-- Dan Rosen

Holmstrom probably in for Wings at San Jose

2.2.2010 / 1:50 PM ET

Swedish winger Tomas Holmstrom is expected back in Detroit's lineup Tuesday night when they play the Sharks. Holmstrom has been out of the lineup since Jan. 6 after breaking his foot.

Holmstrom, who won gold with Sweden in 2006, could have returned Sunday when the Wings played Pittsburgh, but coach Mike Babcock decided to give his foot a few extra days to heal.

"I told Babs I could go, but he looked out there and said I couldn't skate very well," Holmstrom told the Detroit Free Press over the weekend. "Maybe that's the smarter decision. I don't know if two or three days is going to help me, but it probably will, because it's getting better and better each day. I want to come in and play as soon as possible."

Holmstrom has 15 goals in 42 games this season. He had only 14 goals in 53 games last season.

-- Dan Rosen

Finnish D Salo likely back for Canucks

2.2.2010 / 10:40 AM ET

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo is expected to return to the Canucks lineup Tuesday in Montreal after missing four games with a groin injury. Salo, 35, is one of five NHL defensemen who will play for Finland in the upcoming tournament.

Salo practiced with the Canucks on Monday at Bell Centre and, according to a report on TSN, was happy to report that he felt no pain.

"It was the first time I skated with the team and I felt good, actually," Salo said. "This was the first practice, so we'll see how it feels (Tuesday) morning."

Salo injured his groin during a 4-3 win over Dallas on Jan. 22. He played 14:18 over the first two periods, but did not return for the third period. Salo averages nearly 20 minutes of ice time per game.

In other news for Team Finland, star Teemu Selanne scored a goal Monday night in his first game back after missing eight straight games with a broken jaw. And, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (sore back/sick) will likely be out of the lineup Tuesday in Dallas because he is still not feeling well.

Backstrom remained behind in San Jose after Saturday's game because he was sick, but he was reportedly was feeling better Monday, so he flew to Dallas to meet up with the team. However, he was not feeling so great upon landing and is probably out for the game.

-- Dan Rosen

Trades force Jokinen, Hagman to adjust before Olympics

2.2.2010 / 9:33 AM ET

It will certainly be interesting now to see how Finn forwards Olli Jokinen and Niklas Hagman handle these last two weeks before the Olympics begin.

Jokinen was dealt from Calgary to the Rangers in a four player trade late Monday night. Hagman was dealt from Toronto the the Flames on Sunday in the blockbuster that sent Dion Phaneuf back east. Both now face the prospect of uprooting their lives across the continent while thinking about representing Finland in the upcoming tournament and helping the Rangers and Flames regain some of their swagger.

Jokinen, who played for the silver-medal winning Finnish team four years ago in Torino, has struggled this season with only 11 goals. The Rangers, who are starved for offense, will need him to find the touch he had when he was in Florida. He is the Panthers all time leading scorer and a four time 30-goal scorer.

If Jokinen finds his touch again within the next week or so, well the Finns will be delighted. You just have to wonder how the trade will affect him. He called it a "slap in the face" Monday night.

Hagman, who also played for Finland in the Torino Games, had 20 goals for the struggling Leafs.

Both could be a very interesting storylines going into the Olympics.

-- Dan Rosen

Elias nears return from concussion
2.2.2010 / 9:31 AM ET

While the news was bad for Team USA coming out of New Jersey Devils camp on Monday, it was far better for the Czech Republic team.

Patrik Elias, slated to be captain of the Czech team in Vancouver later this month, is expected to be skating again "soon," according to Lou Lamoriello, the Devils' GM.

Elias has been sidelined with a concussion since Jan. 16 when he absorbed a heavy hit from Colorado's Ryan Wilson, but he should be back with the team soon, perhaps before the weekend.
"He's skating and he's feeling good," Lamoriello told the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti. "He'll be practicing with the team soon."

Lamoriello also said he expects Elias to play before the Olympic Break, which will be a boon for both Elias and the Czechs, who play their first Olympic game on Feb. 17.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Martin's Olympic dream done
2.2.2010 / 9:25 AM ET

Paul Martin, expected to be one of the primary puck-movers on the Team USA blueline, withdrew from the team Monday as he struggles to come back from a fractured left forearm that was originally injured on Oct. 24.

"After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my name from participation with Team USA at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver," Martin said in a statement. "While the decision was an extremely difficult one, I feel it is in my long-term best interest to not rush any return to the ice.

"Team USA was informed of my decision earlier today. I look forward to re-joining my New Jersey Devils teammates in the near future, and would also like to wish my fellow Devils' Olympians and the rest of Team USA good luck in their pursuit of the gold medal."

Although nothing formal has been announced, Team USA will likely name a replacement for Martin to the squad later this week, although the deadline for injury replacements is not until Feb. 15, the day before the start of the Olympic tournament.

In fact, Team USA GM Brian Burke will likely have to find two new defenseman to name to the team. Toronto's Mike Komisarek has been out for much of the month with an injured shoulder and it does not appear that he will get into enough NHL games before the Olympic break to make Team USA management comfortable that Komisarek can make it through a grueling, short tournament like the Olympics.

Carolina's Joe Corvo and Anaheim's Ryan Whitney are the most likely candidates to be named as replacements. Corvo is an all-round defenseman with good leadership abilities. Whitney, meanwhile, has the puck-moving and transition skills that will lessen the impact of Martin's loss.

But none of that is consolation to Martin, who has had a lost season since being struck by a Bill Guerin shot in late October. Martin, who started skating on his own last week, was supposed to be back from the injury in December, but the bone did not knit properly. Doctors opted to insert a plate to the bone to help the healing process and Martin was expected to be back in late-January.

But, things are still not right in Martin's left arm and now he has to wear the cast two more weeks, putting him right up against the Olympic Break and leaving him absolutely no wiggle room to attempt to play in the Olympics.

Martin was scheduled to make his first Olympic appearance in Vancouver. He was named to the Team USA taxi squad four years ago in Turin, but never saw action.

"It is healing properly, it's just not to the point where the doctor wants to see it,'' Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told The Associated Press.

Lamoriello said Martin should be ready to go when the League comes out of its Olympic Break and resumes the season March 1. Martin has played just nine games this season for the Devils.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Martin officially bows out
2.1.2010 / 6:00 PM ET

The following is a statement from New Jersey Devils defenseman Paul Martin in regard to his participation in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games:

"After careful consideration, I have decided to withdraw my name from participation with Team USA at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. While the decision was an extremely difficult one, I feel it is in my long-term best interest to not rush any return to the ice.

"Team USA was informed of my decision earlier today. I look forward to re-joining my New Jersey Devils teammates in the near future, and would also like to wish my fellow Devils' Olympians and the rest of Team USA good luck in their pursuit of the gold medal."

Selanne back Monday night
02.01.2010 / 3:42 p.m. ET

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne has had enough waiting for his fractured jaw to heal. After missing eight games with the injury, suffered against Boston on Jan. 13, Selanne told reporters at Monday's morning skate that he would play in Monday night's game against Florida.
"I think I'm playing," Selanne said "I talked to the doctors. Playing tonight or Wednesday (against visiting Detroit) isn't going to be that much different. I'm very excited to be back in the lineup."

Selanne tried various versions of headgear to protect his still-healing jaw, which was broken in three places and was set by inserting plates into each fracture. He ditched a full-cage apparatus, saying that it restricted his vision too much.

Selanne skated at the morning skate with Jason Blake on the other wing and Saku Koivu at center. Blake was obtained yesterday in the deal that sent Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Toronto.

Both Selanne and Koivu, who returned from injury last week, are being counted on to be key contributors for Team Finland in the Olympics. They were the top two scorers on a Finnish team that claimed silver four years ago in Torino.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Team USA replacements named by this weekend
02.01.2010 / 3:30 p.m. ET

Team USA Executive Director Dave Ogrean admitted his managerial staff likely will name replacements for those currently injured players on the American roster by this weekend.

"The deadline is actually when people check into the Olympic Village, but the team has set, for practical consideration, a bar of having to play a certain number of games before the Olympics," Ogrean said during a Winter Olympics teleconference call on Monday.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek, who was named to the U.S. Team headed to Vancouver, has yet to receive clearance to participate in contact drills after suffering a shoulder injury in early January. In addition, Devils defenseman Paul Martin, also named to the Olympic Team on Jan. 1, has been sidelined since Oct. 24 with a fractured left forearm.

"The players in question are two very good defensemen but they've both been out," Ogrean said.
"Brian (Burke) and (Assistant executive director of hockey operations) Jim Johannson and the management team are going to have to make some decisions on whether to keep them on the roster or to replace them with other players under consideration. That decision is one they'll have to be making by this upcoming weekend."

That said, Ogrean is looking forward to an extremely competitive Olympic tournament.

"The pressure on Canada is relentless right now but they are clearly the favorites in both the men's and women's hockey and sled hockey as well," Ogrean said. "Canada will be extremely difficult to beat on home ice, but we're going in with a team that's very different on the men's side than people have seen in the past. It's a new generation of players -- we're probably stronger in goal than we've been in a while."

--Mike G. Morreale

Brodeur dismisses heavy workload
02.01.2010 / 10:32 a.m. ET

New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, likely the starter for Team Canada in the Olympics, has started 33-straight games and has played a League-high 51 games this season. He is the only goalie in NHL history, aside from Terry Sawchuk during the 1954-55 season, to play at least 15 games in back-to-back months.

That is a heavy workload for anybody, but even more noticeable when the goalie shoul dering that load is 37 years old, like Brodeur.

In fact, Brodeur was asked after giving up two goals to the Los Angeles Kings in the last 106 seconds of Sunday's 3-2 loss if he was perhaps tired and could use a night off.

Brodeur was not pleased with that line of questioning, according to the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti.

"Are you kidding me?" Brodeur asked. "Ask my trainer. I play the game as hard as I can all the time."

The Kings goals aside -- and both did come through substantial screens -- Brodeur still has impressive numbers. He leads the League in wins, sits fifth in goals-against (2.22), No. 12 in save percentage (.919) and first in shutouts (7).

Team Canada's other goalies are Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury. Luongo has three fewer wins, a 2.31 GAA, a .920 save percentage and three shutouts. Fleury, who is coming back from a broken ring finger on his catching hand, has five fewer wins than Brodeur, a 2.55 GAA and .909 save percentage. He does not have a shutout this season.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Holmstrom held back for a few days
02.01.2010 / 10:13 a.m. ET

Tomas Holmstrom was hoping to return to the lineup for Sunday's marquee matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins -- a replay of last two Stanley Cup Finals -- but was red-lighted by Detroit coach Mike Babcock.

"We're going to give him another couple days," said Wings coach Mike Babcock. "I think he could probably play. Just confidence-wise I think it's good to have a couple days under his belt."

Holmstrom, out since Jan. 6 with a broken foot, has been skating with the team and was ready to give it a go Sunday, but also admitted it was probably best to wait.

"I told Babs I could go, but he looked out there and said I couldn't skate very well," Holmstrom said. "Maybe that's the smarter decision.

"I don't know if two or three days is going to help me, but it probably will, because it's getting better and better each day. I want to come in and play as soon as possible."

Holmstrom is eager to return as soon as possible because the first Olympic action is 15 days away and he would like to get in a few NHL games before reporting to Team Sweden in Vancouver.

The Red Wings are on the road for the next four games and Holmstrom's return could come as early as Tuesday when Detroit visits Western conference-leading San Jose. The Wings play Anaheim on Wednesday and then play in Los Angeles on Saturday.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Sturm makes triumphant return
02.01.2010 / 9:51 a.m. ET

Boston's Marco Sturm returned Saturday from an unspecified leg injury and made an immediate impact for the Bruins, scoring a power-play goal in a loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

Sturm, who missed six games, will be integral for a Team Germany that will struggle to score goals in the Olympics.

He was not expected to play Saturday, but he felt good after a Friday morning skate in Buffalo. When the injury showed no signs of trouble on Saturday, Sturm decided to play.

It appears to have been the right move. He played a little More than 15 minutes and had the goal, as well as another two quality chances that were thwarted by Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick.

Marc Savrad, who centered Sturm on the power play, said Sturm looked as good as new.
"He was breaking down his wing and skating very well," Savard told ESPN's Matt Kalman.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Komisarek most likely to miss Olympics
01.31.2010 / 1:14 p.m. ET

Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman Mike Komisarek will almost certainly not be a part of the Team USA lineup for the 2010 Olympics after receiving bad news from the doctors on Saturday.

Komisarek, out since Jan. 2 with a shoulder injury, was hoping to get clearance to begin physical contact when he went to his check-up Saturday. Instead, he was told he must wait at least another week as the shoulder continues to heal.

Team USA boss Brian Burke, who also happens to be the GM in Toronto, had said that Komisarek would have to get five NHL games under his belt before the Olympics to be a viable candidate to play in the tournament.

If Komisarek is able to return next Saturday -- by no means a given -- the Leafs will have just two games remaining before the Olympic Break.

"It's definitely in the back of your mind," Komisarek told reporters Saturday morning. "But my priority, my obligation, my responsibility is first and foremost to the Leafs and that's my goal and objective to come back for them.

"The Olympics is a huge honor and privilege, but I'm here to help the (Maple Leafs), so obviously if I don't come back and play with the Leafs I'm not going to be going to Vancouver. In the back of my mind, that hour glass is definitely ticking, but I'm not losing track of the present and doing what I have to do to get back."

The American blue line is in shambles just two weeks before the start of the tournament.

Not only is Komisarek, the team's most physical defenseman on the shelf, but New Jersey's Paul Martin is losing his race against time to return from a broken arm. Martin, out since Oct. 24, is Team USA's best puck mover.

Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson missed Saturday's win against Boston with an upper-body injury, but is expected back before the Olympics. In St. Louis, young defenseman Erik Johnson has been inconsistent to the point of being a healthy scratch last month. He was also an injury scratch earlier this week, although he returned to play 20-plus minutes in Saturday's loss to Columbus.

Burke and Team USA coach Ron Wilson, also the coach in Toronto, have until Feb. 15 to decide on the final look of their blue line. Injury replacements can be made until that day, but no replacements -- for any reason -- can be made after that date.

Carolina's Tim Gleason, Atlanta’s Ron Hainsey, Anaheim's Ryan Whitney and, perhaps, Pittsburgh's Alex Goligoski are the top candidates to bolster the American blue line. 

--Shawn P. Roarke

Selanne close to return
01.29.2010 / 4:14 p.m. ET

Anaheim's Teemu Selanne is close to returning to action, which has to be good news to Team Finland.

Selanne has started skating with the Ducks again as he heals from his broken jaw,

"I don't know when I’m going to play," Selanne told reporters after his first skate on Thursday. "Obviously I have to get my strength back and conditioning back and go from there. I don't know if my jaw is ready to play anyway. But every day, it's definitely better."

Selanne broke his jaw in three places and had to have metal plates inserted for each fracture. He has been unable to eat solid foods and has lost 13 pounds.
While Selanne does not know when he will be back, he should return to game action in plenty of time to join the Finnish Olympic cause in Vancouver. And, he says he is not worried about suffering another injury even though his broken jaw happened just three games after he returned from a broken hand.

"I've had a lot of good luck over the years," Selanne said. "I guess it's time to have a little bad luck. Now I think it's even."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Gleason remains potential replacement
01.29.2010 / 4:00 p.m. ET

Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford feels defenseman Tim Gleason would make an outstanding replacement along the blue line for Team USA next month in Vancouver if Paul Martin is unable to give it a go.

"If Eric Staal wasn't the new captain of the Hurricanes, Tim Gleason would be," Rutherford told NHL.com. "In as short an overview as possible, I think that about sums it all up."

Indeed. Rutherford, who acquired Gleason from Los Angeles along with Eric Belanger in exchange for Oleg Tverdovsky and Jack Johnson in September 2006, feels Gleason is one of the League's most underrated performers.

He was disappointed that Gleason, a native of Clawson, Michigan, wasn't selected in the first place.

"They don't come with any more character than Tim," Rutherford said. "He gives it all he's got. He's a good, strong, tough, defensive-defenseman and has been a real good player for us."

For the season, Gleason, 27, who is in his sixth year, has racked up 114 hits and 80 blocked shots for the Hurricanes.

"I don't want to second guess the people who pick the team because I know how hard it is to pick those teams, but I felt he could have been picked in the first selection group," Rutherford added. "But if he's added here because of an injury, he'll definitely help Team USA."

--Mike G. Morreale

Wilson unsure about Martin
01.29.2010 / 2:43 p.m. ET

Team USA coach Ron Wilson is holding out hope that Paul Martin will be able to play in the Olympics, but it's fading with each passing day that Martin is not on the ice with the New Jersey Devils.

Martin has been out since Oct. 24 with a fractured left forearm and will miss his 44th straight game tonight when the Devils host Wilson's Maple Leafs. The U.S. is slated to open the Olympic tournament on Feb. 16 against Switzerland, but Martin won't be reevaluated by team doctors until Monday, which is Feb. 1.

If he's given clearance to get back on the ice, you'd have to think it's going to take him at least a week or two to get back into shape before he plays in a game, and that might even be pushing it.

Team USA would probably make a decision on him next week just like it has to do with Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek, who could return Saturday against Vancouver.

Ryan Whitney and Ron Hainsey would be potential replacements for Martin.

"I'm optimistic. I have faith. I know it's not going to be easy. All I ask is a chance. Just let me try." -- Paul Martin

"He would have to play in a number of games and it's not looking very good right now," Wilson said. "We've got two weeks to go and it wouldn't be fair to the rest of our team if he only played one or two games (before the Olympics). More, it wouldn't be fair to Paul Martin and, more than likely, the New Jersey Devils, as well. This is a huge event. It's not an exhibition tour. If he is ready, that's even better for us, but let's wait until the doctors decide what's going on. He's had his arm in a cast for three months. So, I don't know how he can get himself ready in two weeks. But if he can, that's great."

Martin told the New York Post that he still believes he can be ready for the Olympics.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "I have faith. I know it's not going to be easy. All I ask is a chance. Just let me try."

-- Dan Rosen

Booth in Olympic discussion
01.28.2010 / 11:05 a.m. ET

Despite being sidelined with a concussion the last 43 games for the Florida Panthers, there's an outside chance forward David Booth could still earn a spot for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Games.

Booth, who attended USA Hockey's orientation camp in August but was left off the initial roster because of his concussion, spoke with Team USA General Manager Brian Burke on Saturday during Florida's 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Burke, also GM of the Leafs, told Booth that he could be a late addition if another player is injured and he is healthy.

"I'm just hoping for a chance, but I don't want anyone to get hurt," Booth said. "You never know what happens. It was unfortunate for me to get hurt, but that's the way the plans go. There's nothing I can do about it. If it happens, so be it. If not, I'm fine with that, too."

Booth began practicing with the team at full speed for the first time since his injury this week, working on a line with Gregory Campbell and Kamil Kreps.

"It was pretty cool being able to practice again and do some drills. It's been a while since I did it, so it was pretty special," Booth said. "It's been tough doing all these skates and doing nothing but getting in shape. That's the hardest part. But the fun's coming. There's light at the end of the tunnel."

"It's been tough doing all these skates and doing nothing but getting in shape. That's the hardest part. But the fun's coming. There's light at the end of the tunnel." -- David Booth

Back in October, Booth was on the receiving end of a devastating open-ice collision with Philadelphia's Mike Richards that left him motionless for several minutes before being taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Florida coach Peter DeBoer has been pleased with Booth's progress.

"He's doing more every day and getting closer,'' DeBoer said. "I don't have a timeline on it exactly, but we're taking more steps and he's taking some battle and contact. We'll see how he deals with that.''

A solid week of practice without any setbacks could go a long way in getting Booth some playing time prior to the Olympic break on Feb. 14.

--Mike G. Morreale

Boyle speaks
1.27.2010 / 4:45 PM ET

Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle was a call-in guest on Wednesday's NHL Live! show with hosts Rob Simpson and Stan Fischler. The League's third-leading blue line scorer will be a big part of Canada's bid for Olympic gold, and you can hear his comments here.

Olympics Report: Czechs and Slovaks
1.27.2010 / 4:45 PM ET

NHL.com Managing Editor Shawn Roarke visited the NHL Live! studio to break down the Olympic roster of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Click here to listen to Roarke's analysis.

Brothers in arms
1.27.2010 / 4:20 PM ET

It was during a conference call last week to promote Hockey Day In Canada when CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry admitted being a bit surprised that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jordan Staal had failed to make the Canadian Olympic roster.

"I thought Jordan Staal should have been on because of his (penalty-killing) ability," Cherry said on the call. "He's magic and he's the guy you put out there on 5-on-3 situations."

When informed of Cherry's comments, Eric Staal, who will be headed to Vancouver to represent Team Canada at the 2010 Games, grinned.

"He's definitely a player in the mix," Staal told NHL.com. "He played a very key role in Pittsburgh going to the Finals and winning a Stanley Cup. He's one of those guys who comes ready to play in big games. If the opportunity arises because of an injury, I'm sure he'll be in the talk and in the mix. He's still a young guy; I'm sure he'll still get his time and his opportunity. But his name could definitely be tossed around with a lot of the guys that are around and in the mix."

Jordan and Eric represented Team Canada at the 2007 World Championships, connecting for two assists in nine games, in helping lead the club to a gold medal.

--Mike G. Morreale

Tretiak worries about D, backs off Zubov story
1.27.2010 / 3:20 PM ET

In an interview with RT.com, Russia GM Vladislav Tretiak said his biggest concern for his team in the upcoming Games is the lack of star power on defense. He also said it was coach Vyacheslav Bykov's call to leave NHL veteran defenseman Sergei Zubov, a two-time Stanley Cup champion and an Olympic gold medal winner, off of the roster.

Tretiak believes Russia's offense and goaltending is strong, but he admitted that the "defense, though, is weaker."

The Russians picked Andrei Markov, Sergei Gonchar, Fedor Tyutin, Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Volchenkov, Dmitri Kalinin and Konstantin Korneyev as their defensemen. Kalinin and Korneyev are playing in the KHL.

"We don't really have any stars on the blue line," Tretiak told RT.com. "Perhaps the only people who come into this category are Gonchar and Markov -- the rest aren't as strong. Even the Canadian press is saying that the Canadians and Americans have stronger defensemen. But our goaltenders (Evgeni Nabokov, Ilya Bryzgalov and Semyon Varlamov) are strong and hopefully they'll be able to make sure any mistakes go unpunished. Our main strength is attack though."

RT.com then asked why Zubov was left off the team if there is such concern for the back end.

"This was a decision taken by our coaches, and I didn't get involved in the selection process," Tretiak said. "It was Vyacheslav Bykov's decision."

"We don't really have any stars on the blue line." -- Russia GM Vladislav Tretiak

Zubov won Olympic gold with the Unified Team in 1992 and then the Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and with Dallas five years later. However, he is embroiled in a controversy back home as a result of being named one of the nine substitutes for the team by the Russian federation.

He told the Russian paper, Sports-Express, that he views it as "a spit in my face." He also blamed both Tretiak and Bykov for saying "something like that to make the team every player should do his best and that  no one will be in the team for previous achievements.

"I was really disappointed by all these words," he added. "That's a complete humiliation of me as a person and a sportsman. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I honestly earned my reputation in hockey. I'm not a 25-year-old guy. I proved by 17 seasons in the NHL that I play at high level. I'm not going to prove anything to anyone anymore."

-- Dan Rosen

Jokinen admits to snubbed feelings
1.27.2010 / 1:15 PM ET

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen, who was part of Finland's silver-medal team at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, didn't get the call to represent his country for the 2010 Games in Vancouver. He had 1 goal and 3 assists in 8 games four years ago and was a valuable component for a team that surprised many by reaching the gold-medal game against Sweden.

During an interview with NHL.com, Jokinen admitted he was shocked about not getting another crack at playing for Finland in the Olympics.

"For sure it was a big surprise and a huge disappointment. I can't deny that," Jokinen said.

It's not as though we're talking about Team USA or Canada here, two rosters loaded with the NHL's best. Three forwards who ply their trade in leagues other than the NHL are on Finland's roster, leaving many to wonder why Jokinen didn't make the cut this time around.

He has the experience with the 2006 team, only the second Finnish team to place as high as second at the Olympics. He's spent the last four years facing NHL competition, undoubtedly the best in the world. He's one of the best -- if not the best -- when it comes to the shootout, something that can come into play during the Olympic competition. And on top of all that, he's coming off last year's Stanley Cup Playoffs when he scored his share of clutch goals in the Hurricanes' seven-game win against the New Jersey Devils and had 7 goals and 4 assists in 18 postseason games.

Jokinen carried that confidence over to this season, and his 15 goals and 37 points in 50 games have him on pace to eclipse his career highs in those categories.

Yet for Finland General Manager Jari Kurri, it wasn't enough to garner Jokinen's inclusion on the 2010 team.

"Four years ago I was on the team in Turin and we lost in the final to 3-2 to Sweden. I think that's when Finland played their best hockey," Jokinen said. "Since that you kind of start to think, 'When's the next Olympics going to be? Vancouver is going to be the best tournament ever.' And you feel you've played pretty good the last Olympics. After that I feel I've been playing pretty good hockey in the NHL.

"Last year's playoffs I felt I played pretty good hockey and this year obviously my team hasn't been as good as we all hoped, but I still feel I'm playing pretty good hockey, so it was a big disappointment."

Jokinen isn't so upset about his snub that he's rooting against his countrymen ("Obviously I don't care if I'm on the team or not I hope they can win a gold there") and he certainly didn't spend a lot of time sulking about it either.

Since the Finnish team was announced at the end of December, Jokinen has kicked it into another gear offensively. He has 12 points in 12 games this month, and those 4 goals and 8 assists have come in Carolina's last eight games. Jokinen said he didn't use the disappointment as a motivational tool, but he also didn't use it as an excuse to get down on himself and let the level of his play dip.

"I don't think it's that," Jokinen said when asked if being left off the Finnish team lit a fire under him. "There are a couple things you can do after that. You can go down and try to figure out an explanation for why you're not on the team, but the truth is there's nothing you can do. The only good thing you can do with yourself is try to play as good as you can. But I've been trying to do that the whole year, so I don't think that's why I've been so good lately."

Being partnered with Eric Staal on Carolina's first line certainly doesn't hurt, either. Staal will represent Canada at the 2010 Games, and when asked to make a prediction as to which team Finland would beat in the gold-medal game (Because really, what NHL player is going to pick against his country?) Jokinen offered some bad news for his linemate.

"I'll say Canada," Jokinen said when asked who Finland would take down in the gold-medal game. "Obviously they're going to have lots of pressure with their home fans. I think in Turin they probably took too many veteran guys there and now they have so many good young players and still a few really good veterans there. So I think they are probably the team to beat."

-- Dave Lozo