GLENDALE – Martin Hanzal and Zbynek Michalek are excited to represent Czech Republic at the 2014 Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s great,” said Hanzal, who has played for his country before at the IIHF World Championship and IIHF World Junior Championship but never in the Olympics. “It’s a huge honor for me… I’m really excited to be (going) there and I can’t wait. I think playing at the Olympics and playing in the playoffs in the NHL is comparable. It’s huge — especially the Olympics, though, because it’s only once every four years and you play against the best players in the world."
Hanzal also is looking forward to playing on the larger ice surface at the Games.
"It's a different sport," he said. "It's more skating, more circling… I like our chances."
Michalek played for Czech Republic at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
He’s thrilled to return to the Winter Games but he’s more eager to get back on the ice for the Coyotes first.
"Right now, I'm not playing and haven’t played for a while,” said Michalek, who has been nursing a lower-body injury for a few months and last played Dec. 17. “My first thing is to get healthy and get playing. If everything goes well, then I can go and play the Olympics.”
Michalek is skating lightly on his own but there is not timetable for his return to the Coyotes lineup. The Olympics begin Feb. 6.
“It’s the best tournament in the world and all the best players go there so it’s a dream come true,” Michalek said. “Before the season it was a big goal of mine to make that team and I’m really excited to be (going) there.”