The German entry for the Winter Olympics is often capable of good performances, but not usually sustained excellence. On Wednesday, the Deutscher Eishockey Bund announced its 23-man provisional roster for the 2010 tournament in Vancouver and head coach Uwe Krupp is sending a squad that has a decidedly new look.
Only 12 of the players selected were on the squad that swept a final Olympic qualification tournament last February to secure a spot in the 12-nation field in Vancouver. And only 11 players who are going to the 2010 Olympic Games were on Germany's disappointing entry that placed 15th in the 2009 World Championships.
Germany's Olympic roster includes six NHLers -- goaltender Thomas Greiss (San Jose), defensemen Christian Ehrhoff (Vancouver), Dennis Seidenberg
(Florida) and Alexander Sulzer (Nashville), and forwards Marcel Goc (Nashville) and Marco Sturm (Boston). Winger Philip Gogulla, a Buffalo prospect who has yet to make his NHL debut, was chosen from Portland of the American Hockey League. In his first season of North American hockey, the 22-year-old Gogulla has 5 goals and 16 points in 31 games.
The remaining 16 skater all play in Germany's top professional league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
Veteran center Jochen Hecht of Buffalo was surprisingly left off Krupp's roster, as was Atlanta defenseman Christoph Schubert. Both were included on a reserve list. Hecht has a long international resume and participated in the 1998 and 2002 Games. He was also selected to play in 2006 in Torino, Italy but suffered an injury in his last NHL game before the Olympic break and was unable to play. In eight Olympic games, Hecht has 2 goals and an assist.
This season with Buffalo, Hecht has only 6 goals and 15 points in 39 games and is eighth on the team in scoring.
Schubert participated in the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics, totaling 2 assists in 12 games. A defenseman who has also played forward in his five-year NHL career with Ottawa and Atlanta, he has 2 goals and 6 points in 35 games with the Thrashers in 2009-10.
Several weeks ago, Krupp told the German sport agency SID that "if a player over there [in North America] plays a marginal role and gets only a little ice time, it's absolutely possible that we will take a player [to the Olympics] who plays a bigger role in Germany."
He was true to his word.
Seven players on Germany's provisional roster played in Torino 2006.
Sturm, like Hecht, participated in the 1998 and 2002 tournaments, but pulled out of the 2006 Games with an unspecified upper-body injury. He was to be the captain of the Torino squad. In seven Olympic games, Sturm has 1 assist.
Forward Sven Felski has the most international experience with 140 national team games, including the 2006 Olympics and nine World Championships. Michael Wolf, a forward who scored 27 goals and 55 points in 52 games for the Iserlohn Roosters last season, is another focal point for the offense.
The final Olympic rosters will be registered on Feb. 15 at the International Ice Hockey Federation directorate meeting one day prior to the beginning of the tournament in Vancouver. After that date, no replacements are possible.
Germany is currently 13th in the International Ice Hockey Federation's world rankings. Since NHL players have been participating in the Winter Games, Germany’s best showing was an eighth place finish at Salt Lake City in 2002. The nation hasn’t medaled in Olympic competition since earning the bronze in 1976 while playing under the flag of West Germany.
Author: Rocky Bonanno | NHL.com Staff Writer