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by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
Coyotes defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Sami Lepisto on Wednesday joined goalie Ilya Bryzgalov as official participants in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Michalek will play for the Czech Republic, Lepisto will play for Finland and Bryzgalov will play for Russia. Neither Michalek nor Lepisto has competed in the Olympics before.

“It’s a great feeling and a really big honor for me, and I am really thankful for the chance I am getting and looking forward to it,” Michalek said.

As an added bonus, Michalek’s brother Milan will be one of his Olympic teammates.

“It’s just incredible, and it’s going to be a really fun atmosphere in Canada,” Michalek said. “What else can you ask for?”

Lepisto also is thrilled to be playing on the global stage.

“When I got the call I was almost in tears,” Lepisto said. “I found out on Christmas Eve so it was a very nice Christmas present. Hopefully I can stay healthy and play good in that tournament. They’re saying this could be the last Olympics that the NHL players are a part of, so it’s going to be special, especially in Vancouver. I cant’ wait.”

Shane Doan
Meanwhile, Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who captained Team Canada three years in a row at the IIHF World Championship and who was an Olympian in 2006, was not selected to play in the Olympics this time.

"I was very, very disappointed," Doan told reporters about his reaction to the news. "But at the same time, you cheer for Canada and hope they get gold."

Doan clearly took the high road on Wednesday and said all the right things when asked about being left out, but anybody who knows him well knows the snub hit him hard.

My two cents: Canada has made a huge mistake. Doan has valuable international experience and is willing to play any role to help his beloved Team Canada win the gold medal. It’s a shame he won’t get the chance to try at a venue so close to his hometown of Halkirk, Alberta.

The Coyotes have earned 53 points at the halfway point of the regular season.

That’s extremely impressive to me considering Head Coach Dave Tippett didn’t come on board until the last 10 days of training camp, nobody on the team ranks in the top 75 in the NHL in points, and alternate captains Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek missed significant time because of injury.

Now, I am no math wiz, but 53 points after 41 games puts Phoenix on pace to earn 106 points. For those who are wondering, the franchise record for points in a season is 96 set in 1984-85.

Stay tuned….

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