Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the two Minnesota Wild stars, won’t just be playing for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the Olympics in February. They will be leading the way for Team USA.
Parise, who recently returned from a foot injury and has 18 goals and 16 assists in 41 games for Minnesota, was named the captain for Team USA on Friday. Suter, who has six goals and 27 assists along with an NHL-high 29 minutes, 39 seconds of average ice time, will be an alternate captain along with Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"Number one, to be named to the team is awesome," Parise told the Wild’s website. "But it’s a special thing to be named captain."
Parise led Team USA with four goals and eight points four years ago for the silver medal-winning team at the 2010 Olympics. Parise and Suter were assistant captains for Team USA in Vancouver in 2010.
The two were part of a five-man leadership group for USA Hockey, including Brown, St. Louis Blues forward David Backes and New York Rangers forward Ryan Callahan.
"I know a majority of the guys wear a letter with their own team and there are going to be plenty of guys capable of doing it," Parise said. "I’m pretty humbled to be named the captain."
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 7-23 in Sochi. The United States plays Slovakia in its first game Feb. 13.
The Wild have five players committed to play in the Olympics. Along with Parise and Suter, Minnesota’s two alternate captains, Wild captain Mikko Koivu and second-year center Mikael Granlund are playing for Finland. Forward Nino Niederreiter is part of the Swiss Olympic team.