While the NHL takes a two-and-a-half-week break for the Winter Olympics in February, some Mighty Ducks will still be playing hockey. Six Ducks players – Teemu Selanne
(Finland), Samuel Pahlsson (Sweden), Ilya Bryzgalov (Russia), Vitaly Vishnevski (Russia) , Sandis Ozolinsh (Latvia) and Scott Neidermayer (Canada) – were named to their respective countries’ 2006 Winter Olympic teams. The Games will be Feb. 15-26 in Torino, Italy.
Selanne helped Finland to the bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, while co-leading the tournament with 10 points (four goals and six assists). He has 14 goals and 10 assists in 17 Olympic contests.
“I’m very excited to be playing again because playing for your country is always special,” said the 35-year-old Selanne. “And since this is probably going to be my last Olympics, I’m looking at it a whole lot differently, knowing I won’t be there again.”
Selanne also competed on several of Finland’s national teams over the past 15 years, including the country’s World Championship teams (1996, 1999 & 2003) and World/Canada Cup squads (1991, 1996 & 2004). He helped Finland to the silver medal at the 1999 World Championships, while also being voted the event’s MVP.
Bryzgalov represented Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics as a backup goaltender on the team that won the bronze medal. “I feel like we’ll have another good team this time around and I really hope to be able to contribute,” Bryzgalov said.
Bryzgalov played in three games for Russia at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, posting a 2-1 record. He also played for Russia in the 2000 World Championships and 2000 World Junior Championships, where he won a silver medal.
Vishnevski has appeared in three international tournaments for Russia. He played in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, going scoreless in three appearances with a +5 rating. The Kharkov, Russia native has appeared in two World Championship tournaments. He earned 0-3=3 points in seven games at the 2001 tournament and helped Russia to the gold medal at the 1999 World Junior event, where he tallied 0-1=1 point.
Pahlsson will be making his Olympic debut, though he played for Sweden in the World Championships in 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2005. He helped Sweden to a bronze medal in 1999 and a silver medal in 2004.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Pahlsson said. “When I first heard I was selected, I was thrilled.”
Ozolinsh was selected to the Latvian team for the second time. He posted four assists in one game at the 2002 Games, a 6-6 tie with Slovakia. He has also played on two Latvian World Championship teams, and he played for medal-winning Soviet teams in 1991 (silver) and 1992 (gold) at the World Championships.
Niedermayer is the only of the Ducks to have won an Olympic gold medal, which his Canadian team captured at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. It was the country’s first Olympic hockey gold in 50 years.
The 32-year-old Niedermayer has played on several Canadian national teams in his career, including a gold medal run at the 2004 World Championships, where he was a teammate of brother and Ducks teammate Rob. Scott is the only player in hockey history to win the Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal, a World Championship, the World Cup, the Memorial Cup and a World Junior title. Selected as an Olympian for the XX Winter Olympics, he will not be in Team Canada’s lineup due to a knee injury which required surgery. Scott has appeared in all 57 games for the Ducks this season and is expected back in the Ducks lineup shortly after the NHL’s Olympic Break.
The Ducks will also be represented in the broadcast booth during the Games, as television analyst Brian Hayward will be part of the announcing team for NBC Universal.