USA Hockey announced that three Philadelphia Flyers, goaltender Robert Esche, defenseman Derian Hatcher and right wing Mike Knuble, will play for the United States Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
Esche, 27, has registered an 11-4-2 record, 3.14 GAA and .890 save percentage in 18 games for the Flyers this season. In 146 career regular season games over seven NHL seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes and the Flyers (1998-99 through 2005-06), Esche has compiled a 62-48-16-8 record, 2.57 GAA and .903 save percentage.
A native of Whitesboro, New York, Esche has been a member of teams that have represented the United States in the 1996 and 1997 World Junior Championships, the 2000 and 2001 World Championships and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Hatcher, 33, has recorded four goals and seven assists for 11 points and 38 penalty minutes in 28 games for the Flyers this season. He leads the team in average time on ice (24:10). In 870 career regular season games over 14 NHL seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and the Flyers (1991-92 through 2005-06), Hatcher has registered 75 goals and 234 assists for 309 points and 1,426 penalty minutes.
A native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, Hatcher was a member of Team USA at the 1993 World Championships, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and was scoreless in four games at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
Knuble, 33, has posted 28 points (16G,12A) and 36 penalty minutes in 31 games for the Flyers this season. He is second on the team in goals and third on the team in points. In 541 career regular season games over nine NHL seasons with Detroit, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and the Flyers, Knuble has recorded 117 goals and 119 assists for 236 points and 260 penalty minutes.
Knuble has represented the United States at the 1995, 1998 and 2005 World Championships.
Esche, Hatcher and Knuble are three of 23 players that will represent the United States in the hockey competition at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The tournament runs from February 15 through 26, 2006. The National Hockey League will suspend operations from February 13 through 27 to allow NHL players to participate in the tournament.