The only taxi squad Tomas Surovy will see is the one driving around the Olympic village in Torino, Italy.
On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins winger was promoted to Slovakia’s active roster for the upcoming Olympic hockey tournament.
“It’s exciting going to an Olympics,” he said. “It’s going to be a good thing I am there.”
Surovy, 24, had previously been named to Slovakia’s taxi squad, a three-man reserve unit every team in the tournament has in case of one of their 23 players on the active roster is injured. Since Ladislav Nagy had knee surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season, Surovy was promoted to Slovakia’s 23-man active roster.
“I am not even thinking about it. The only way I got a chance was for someone to get hurt and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt,” Surovy said. “I wasn’t even thinking about getting a spot because I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. It’s a good thing to see the Olympics and be a part of the team. The Olympics is going to be the biggest experience of my life.”
Slovakia’s first Olympic game is against Russia on Feb. 15. It will put Surovy against Penguins teammate Sergei Gonchar of Russia as well as the Penguins’ Russian prospect Evgeni Malkin, the 2004 second-overall pick. Surovy believes the Russians have a good shot at gaining a medal in the tournament.
“Right now, probably Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Finland and Slovakia,” he said, “We have to play hard and see what will happen.”
Surovy points out that, after teams advance from pool play, the playoff rounds to advance to the gold and bronze medal games are single-elimination, unlike a seven-game series in the NHL postseason. So, this gives teams a greater chance for upsets.
“This is different playoffs than over here. It’s one game in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, so you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I think we have a chance. It’s a one-game playoff system, so we have to play hard and catch a break maybe. We have so many good players on the team. We have a chance.”
Surovy has nine goals and nine assists in 28 games in Pittsburgh this year. He is not upset that he will not get a chance to enjoy some time off like the rest of the NHL players not participating in the Olympics.
“No. The Olympics is going to be my best experience,” he said. “I can relax after the season. I wanted to go there, that’s for sure.”