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Hurricanes' Eric Staal, Semin don't make Olympic cut

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The announcement of the Olympic rosters proved to be an unkind one for a pair of Carolina Hurricanes players. Team captain Eric Staal was not named to Canada's roster and forward Alexander Semin did not make the cut for Russia.

Staal was a member of Canada's 2010 gold-medal winning team at the Vancouver Olympics, but was hampered this season by a knee injury he suffered at the 2013 IIHF World Championship after a knee-on-knee collision with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler of Sweden. He's currently injured with a separate lower-body injury.

"It [stinks] with that tough injury and for Eric not having the summer he wanted, probably, to get his body right," said Jordan Staal, Eric's brother. "Obviously he was ready for the season, but it's unfortunate that is the way it is."

In the Vancouver Olympics, Staal had one goal and five assists in seven games for Canada.

"It's not easy making the team," Jordan said. "There's always tough decisions and Eric was on the wrong end of it and it's unfortunate."

Semin was a member of Russia during the Vancouver Olympics and has put up strong numbers at the annual World Championship with 32 points in 39 career games.

"I know playing with him and seeing him on our team last year and this year, they must have a lot of talent in there if he didn't make the team," linemate and Finnish Olympian Tuomo Ruutu said. "He's such a good player and probably one of the most skilled guys I've ever seen in my whole career. Like, probably top 10."

During the Vancouver Olympics, Semin had no goals and two assists in four games as Russia finished without a medal.

It wasn't all bad news for Hurricanes players and the Olympics. Ruutu was named to Finland's roster and defenseman Andrej Sekera was selected by Slovakia. Both players represented their countries in 2010.

"The U.S., Canada, Russia, they're expected to be on the medal stand," Sekera said. "For us it's just a game at a time. Try to play each game like it's our last one and see where that will get us."

Finland goes into the Sochi Olympics hoping to improve on the bronze medal they won in 2010.

"We haven't been the favorites, but I think we have a good team," Ruutu said. "We have some individuals but we also play well as a team. I think that's been our strength in past tournaments."

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