CHICAGO -- Keith Yandle
isn’t expecting a call from USA Hockey as it moves to replace injured Olympian Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils. Martin was chosen to play for Team USA at this month’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver but officially backed out this week because of a broken arm. Defenseman Mike Komisarek of the Toronto Maple Leafs is nursing an upper-body injury, too, and also may give up his Team USA roster spot.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen, but if something were to happen at the last minute and they asked me to play, I’d definitely drop anything I had planned for the break and go play,” Yandle said.
Yandle notes that he wasn’t among the potential Olympians drug tested for these Games awhile back, so it’s doubtful he will be getting a call this week. Still, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve consideration.
Coyotes Assistant Coach Dave King served as Head Coach for Team Canada at the 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics. I asked him today if he felt Yandle was ready to play on such a huge stage.
“I definitely think he’s ready to take that Olympic opportunity if it came,” King said. “He’s very good offensively and he breaks the puck out of his zone as good as anybody. And, he can play the power play. If the U.S. needs a puck-moving defenseman and a guy who can lead the attack a little bit, too, he’s a good one to bring along. I think he’s a guy they should consider.”
Yandle already has set an NHL career-high for goals in a season with 10 and his 29 points rank fifth on the team.
Defensively, Yandle has evolved into a reliable blueliner. His plus-10 rating ranks second only to Radim Vrbata
“Playing at the Olympics is so, so special,” King said. “It’s the best against the best at the best time of the year. I think for him to be in that dressing room with all those other professional players at that high level would be really terrific for him. I hope he gets that chance.”
Defenseman Sami Lepisto, who often is partnered with Yandle, is hoping Yandle does get picked because he will be playing for Finland and would love to compete against Yandle in that setting.
“It’s been so fun playing with him and it would be fun to play against him there,” Lepisto said. “I think he’s done some wonderful things for us this season and I think they should for sure consider him.”
In a recent blog I asked readers to submit questions. Many of you responded by asking for an update on defenseman Kurt Sauer, who hasn’t played a game since the season opener because of a puzzling head/neck/upper-body injury that has left him with balance and vision problems.
|Kurt Sauer |
Here’s the scoop, according to General Manager Don Maloney:
“Kurt continues to receive treatment on his injury,” Maloney told me. “There has not been a great deal of progress and his therapy is ongoing. I’d like to say it’s getting better but I do not know whether he’ll return this season. We’ll just keep our fingers crossed that he turns the corner.”
Sauer has been working out on his own on and off the ice five days per week for the past three-plus months. Mike Bahn, the team’s Strength and Conditioning Coordinator, has been monitoring Sauer’s conditioning. Maloney says Sauer can do the drills, but he struggles with balance and vision issues after they are over.
At this point, the Coyotes are considering asking Sauer to shut it down for a while.
I wish Kurt a speedy recovery.
Thanks for reading.