Boston, MA - The Boston Bruins will send three players, one coach, and a trainer to Turin, Italy, to represent their native countries at the Olympics this year. The players are P.J. Axelsson (Sweden), Hal Gill (USA), and Milan Jurcina (Slovakia). Marco Sturm (Germany) and Alex Zhamnov (Russia) were also named to their country's roster, but will not attend due to injuries. Bruins Head Coach Mike Sullivan will serve as the Assistant Coach for Team USA, while team trainer Don DelNegro will serve as the head trainer for the team.
P.J. Axelsson, 30, enters his second Olympic games for Sweden. He also participated in 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City with four games played and two penalty minutes. Sweden was a favorite in 2002 until Belarus won 4-3 in an upset win in the Quarterfinals. Team Sweden is expected to battle against Canada and the Czech Republic for the gold medal at this year's games.
"It's a really big event," said Axelsson. "It's an honor to represent your country and it's going to be fun to go over there and play. I think it's going to be a good tournament this year. There are a lot of good teams."
Hal Gill,30, heads to Turin as a member of the United States Taxi Squad. Gill will only play in the games if a Team USA Member gets injured. The Torino Games will be Gill's first and he hopes to be able to secure a spot for the 2010 games in Vancouver.
"I'm excited," said Gill. "It will be fun. Hopefully nobody gets hurt, but if someone does I'll be right there. It'll be good to go skate with those guys and be around the Olympic atmosphere."
Milan Jurcina,22, will be making his Olympic debut for Team Slovakia. The rookie defenseman has five goals and four assists for nine points in 37 games for the Bruins. Jurcina scored two goals in back-to-back games on January 7 and January 10, the first Bruins defenseman to do that since Ray Bourque in 1990.
"I can't wait," said Jurcina with a smile from ear-to-ear. "I am definitely really excited. We have some pretty good players so hopefully we can go over and do some damage. I'm ready."
Marco Sturm,27, was named to his third Olympic roster for Germany, but will not participate due to an upper body injury suffered on February 4 against the Montreal Canadiens. The break will allow Sturm to rehab his injury and be ready for the team's playoff run when their season resumes on March 1.
Alex Zhamnov, 35, suffered a broken ankle on January 7 against Tampa Bay and will not be able to participate in the 2006 Torino Games. In what would have been his fourth Olympic games. In 1992, Zhamnov won a Gold medal with Russia and recorded three assists in eight games. In 1998, he was a member of the Russian Olympic team that won a Silver medal and the 2002 team that won the bronze.
Coach Mike Sullivan, 37, will be participating in his first Olympics as Team USA's assistant coach. Sullivan enters the games this winter with a 65-43-32-career record while coaching the Boston Bruins. In his first season as head coach, Sullivan led the B's to the Northeast Division title and second place in the Eastern Conference.
"It's a thrill to have an opportunity to represent your country and also have the opportunity to work with some of the best players in the world and compete at that level of competition," said Sullivan. "It's really a thrill for me and I'm looking forward to it. I really haven't had a whole lot of time to give it a lot of thought, but I'm sure I will on the plane tomorrow and when I get there. It's certainly an honor and a privilege to be asked to participate in an event like the Olympics and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to help out."
Current Carolina Hurricanes Coach and ex-Providence Bruins Coach, Peter Laviolette, will be the head bench boss for Team USA.
Don DelNegro will serve as the head athletic trainer for the US Men's Ice Hockey team this year in Turin. He served as the head trainer for the US Olympic Bobsled and Luge teams at the 1992 Olympic games in France and for Team USA at both the 2000 and 2005 World Hockey Championships.