Czechs pick Jagr for Olympic roster
Former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr was included in the Czech
Republic’s Olympic squad for the Vancouver Games on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old right winger who was the NHL’s MVP in 1999
with the Pittsburgh Penguins was selected in the 23-man preliminary
squad announced by coach Vladimir Ruzicka. The roster will be
finalized Jan 21.
Other current Czech NHL stars — forwards Patrik Elias of the
New Jersey Devils and Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens and
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle — were also included.
A total of 16 players are from the NHL, while five play in
Russia and two in the Czech league.
Jagr helped the Czech Republic win gold at the 1998 Nagano
Olympics in Japan, and is the only player from that team on the
roster for Vancouver.
Jagr began his NHL career in 1990 and played for the
Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and the Rangers. In 1,273
NHL games, he had 1,599 points from 646 goals and 953 assists and
won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins.
He left the NHL in 2008 to join Avangard Omsk in the Russian
KHL league but has not ruled out a return when his contract expires
Ruzicka said he wanted Elias to captain the team, with Jagr
and Kaberle to be his deputies.
“For our hockey, success mean a medal,” Ruzicka said. “We
travel (to Vancouver) to get a medal. Anything else is a failure.”
The Czechs will face Russia, Latvia and Slovakia in the group
stage of the Olympic tournament.
The most notable omissions on the squad are forwards Milan
Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche and Vaclav Prospal of the New York
Ruzicka said “Hejduk’s got a knee problem” and was worried
that could limit him. The coach said he decided to select eight
defensemen and 12 forwards because the team would otherwise be “too
attack-minded” with 13 forwards.
“We had to name 23 players, not 40,” said Ruzicka, who also
left out former Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler.
Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers will be the first-choice
goalie, with Ondrej Pavelec of the Atlanta Thrashers his backup.
The Czech squad:
Goaltenders: Tomas Vokoun (Florida Panthers), Ondrej Pavelec
(Atlanta Thrashers), Jakub Stepanek (Vitkovice).
Defensemen: Blatak (Salavat Yulayev), Jan Hejda (Columbus
Blue Jackets), Tomas Kaberle (Toronto Maple Leafs), Filip Kuba
(Ottawa Senators), Pavel Kubina (Atlanta Thrashers), Zbynek
Michalek (Poenix Coyotes), Roman Polak (St Louis Blues), Marek
Zidlicky (Minnesota Wild).
Forwards: Petr Cajanek (SKA St. Petersburg), Roman Cerbenka
(Slavia Prague), Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils), Martin Erat
(Nashville Predators), Tomas Fleischmann (Washington Capitals),
Martin Havlat (Minnesota Wild), Jaromir Jagr (Avangard Omsk), David
Krejci (Boston Bruins), Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators), Tomas
Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens), Tomas Rolinek (Metallurg), Josef