|Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu is looking forward to playing for Finland at Vancouver 2010 Olympics alongside his younger brother, Tuomo (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Brotherly love will be front and centre for a pair of Ottawa Senators on the world's biggest sporting stage.
When Milan Michalek
and Jarkko Ruutu line up for the Czech Republic and Finland respectively at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, they'll share the moment with their hockey-playing siblings. Michalek's older brother, Zbynek, was also named to the Czech squad earlier today, while Tuomo Ruutu joins his big brother in Finnish colours.
"It’s a great honour," said Jarkko Ruutu, who will represent Finland at a third straight Winter Games. "Even though we’re two separate individuals, it’s always fun to play with your brother, especially when he’s so much younger. You don’t get to experience those things too often."
For the Michaleks, it's the first time they've played together on a team since they were youngsters growing up in Jindrichuv Hradec, Czech Republic. That they'll make their Olympic debuts together makes the moment even more special.
"It was our dream to play together in such a big tournament," said Milan Michalek
, who got the news through friends who had seen the Olympic roster on a Czech newspaper's website. "We talked about it before in the summer and now the dream has come true. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve never played together and it’s going to be great.
"We played a lot in the streets all the time in our hometown when we were younger. But nothing since we were older."
The Czech squad will also include Senators defenceman Filip Kuba
, who previously played for his homeland at the 2006 Turin Games. He's enthused about having Michalek as a Czech teammate for the first time.
"It’s a great honour. Even though we’re two separate individuals, it’s always fun to play with your brother, especially when he’s so much younger. You don’t get to experience those things too often." - Jarkko Ruutu
"I think it's pretty cool for Milan that he can play with his brother," said Kuba. "It's the biggest thing, the Olympics, and to play in the world (championships). But this is totally different and I'm just glad I can play for the Czechs."
Meanwhile, Senators centre Mike Fisher, who had played himself into contention for a Team Canada roster spot with a strong season start, was left off the lineup announced today by executive director Steve Yzerman in Saskatoon.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed about not being named (to the team)," said Fisher, who was part of the Olympic Torch Relay last month in Gatineau. "It would have been unbelievable to have been a part of it. But you know what, there's so many guys and to even be in the mix and be considered is an honour. They've got an unbelievable team and it would have been nice to have been a part of it."
Last weekend, Sweden named Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
to his fourth Olympic team, while defenceman Anton Volchenkov was chosen to suit up for Russia in Vancouver. Latvia's team at the 2010 Games will include Ottawa prospect Kaspars Daugavins
, while Switzerland named Ottawa prospect Roman Wick to its team today.
Vancouver 2010 marks the first time the Olympic ice hockey tournament will be played in Canada since National Hockey League players first participated in the Games in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Ruutu believes the stage is set for the most thrilling one of the bunch.
"I think it's going to be by far the most exciting (Olympics) for hockey, especially with the hype around it right now in Vancouver," he said. "I don't think it gets any better."