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Niemi Chosen to Play for Team Finland in Sochi

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks

A pair of teenagers and the absence of a national icon on Finland's 25-man roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics named Tuesday have signaled the start of a transition for the country.

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta will provide a measure of youthful enthusiasm for the Finns, but Anaheim Ducks center Saku Koivu has reportedly declined an invitation to participate in his fifth Olympics and was not on the announced roster.

Finland is the only country to medal in three of the four tournaments since the NHL began taking a break from its schedule to allow players to participate in 1998.

While it will be strange to see the Finns without longtime captain Koivu, Ducks forward Teemu Selanne will be on the team for a sixth time. The team is also stacked in net, with goaltenders Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins), Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks) and Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars). Another elite goaltender, Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, has missed most of the season because of an infection in his hip and was not named to the roster.

The defense corps includes only two current NHL veterans, Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia Flyers) and the Tampa Bay Lightning's Sami Salo. They are joined by Maatta and young Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen, and four players from Europe.

Mikku Koivu, Saku's brother and likely successor as team captain, was named to the team but his participation is also in doubt because of a broken ankle.

Here is the 25-man roster for Finland:

Goaltenders -- Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars, Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks, Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins

Defensemen -- Lasse Kukkonen, Kärpät Oulu (FIN), Juuso Hietanen, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod (RUS), Sami Lepisto, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (RUS), Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sami Salo, Tampa Bay Lightning, Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Vaananen, Jokerit Helsinki, Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

Forwards -- Juhamatti Aaltonen, Kärpät Oulu (FIN), Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers, Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning, Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild, Jussi Jokinen, Pittsburgh Penguins, Olli Jokinen, Winnipeg Jets, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, Leo Komarov, Dynamo Moscow (RUS), Petri Kontiola, Traktor Chelyabinsk (RUS), Lauri Korpikoski, Jori Lehtera, Sibir Novosibirsk (RUS), Antti Pihlstrom, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS), Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes, Teemu Selänne, Anaheim Ducks

By Staff

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