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Handzus to play for Slovakia

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Kings forward Michal Handzus has been selected for the roster for his native Slovakia for the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, it was announced Tuesday.

Handzus highlights

Handzus, 32, had been selected to participate in the Olympics twice – in 2006 (did not play) and 2002 (2 GP, 1-0=1). A native of Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, Handzus has also represented his country in international play during the 2008, 2005, 2002 (silver medal) and 2000 (gold medal) World Championships, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the 1997 and 1996 World Junior Championships.

A 6-4, 216-pound center, Handzus has played in all 39 games with the Kings this season, recording 18 points (7-11=18) and 30 penalty minutes. He is tied for first on the team with three game-winning goals. Last season, he was selected as the Kings’ Best Defensive Player and Unsung Hero while also serving as the Kings nominee for the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He was one of five Kings to play in all 82 games – he has played in 165 consecutive games (September 29, 2007 to present) – and last season he ranked fourth on the Kings with 42 points and tied for fourth on the team with 18 goals (his highest goal production since 2003-04).

"I’m excited to play for my country,” said Handzus. “It’s going to be exciting and I think we’re going to have a good team. I think it’s a huge honor to play for my country. Everybody will be watching back home and it’s a great tournament with the best players in the world.”

In 720 career regular season NHL games with the Kings, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and St. Louis, Handzus has 381 points (147-234=381) and 420 penalty minutes. In 60 career playoff games, he has 25 points (7-18=25) and 34 penalty minutes.

Canada is among five countries to announce their rosters tomorrow and the U.S. will announce their roster on January 1 during the NHL Winter Classic.

For a historical look at the Kings and the Olympics, visit Handzus will be joined in Vancouver on the Slovakian team by former Kings forwards Jozef Stumpel and Ziggy Palffy, and former Kings defensemen Martin Strbak and Lubomir Visnovsky.

Handzus and the Kings practice today at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo at 11 a.m. and play tomorrow, Wednesday, at Calgary at 6:30 p.m. (PT) to begin a two-game road trip that concludes in Minnesota on Thursday at 5 p.m. (PT). Both games will be broadcast on KTLK AM 1150 and along the Kings Radio Network. The Kings-Minnesota game will air on FS West.

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