RUSSIAN ROULETTE: The Blackhawks and Sochi

A lot has happened since Sidney Crosby bent twine behind Ryan Miller in Vancouver in 2010, giving Canada the Olympic Gold Medal.

There's been a lockout. There have been retirements of great players at the international level, such as Niklas Lidstrom. There have been emerging stars like Jonathan Quick and Tuukka Rask.

Oh, and the Chicago Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups.

In order to win the Stanley Cup, you must have very good players. In this age of the globalization of the game of hockey, you must look to a lot of different places to find these players.

Of course, when the Olympics roll around, all these different places want the very good players who call those places home to represent them in the Games, held this February in Sochi, Russia.

So when the NHL and IIHF managed to sort out whatever it was that needed sorting out, and it was announced the league would close up shop during the games, it was revealed that 15 players from the Hawks were being invited to orientation camps for their respective countries. And a large percentage of Blackhawks fans reacted the only way they could.

They freaked the fuck out.

In 2010, six members of the Blackhawks went to the Olympics in Vancouver. Canada had Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The United States had Patrick Kane. Slovakia had Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky. People were worried then that the Hawks weren't resting, they could get hurt, any number of worst-case scenarios.

They won the Stanley Cup four months later.

Now, they're coming off a Cup win. The same angst exists, this time compounded with fears stemming from an abbreviated offseason. Everyone relax. Take a deep breath. Look forward to the awesome two weeks of hockey we'll get. How much of that will be played by Blackhawks? Let's take a look:

TEAM CANADA

Blackhawk Invitees: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford

OK, for starters...Toews and Keith are as close to mortal locks as there can be. If they are healthy, they're playing. Toews will be part of an insanely deep corps of centers that will include Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and...hell, does it even matter who the 4th one is? Sharp will be competing with the likes of John Tavares, Taylor Hall, Steven Stamkos, and...know what Sharpie? Maybe you should become an American citizen. Seabrook was the 7th defenseman on the 2010 team, and now he'll be duking it out with P.K. Subban, Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and a few others. I would be surprised if he makes the cut, unless there's a rash of injuries. Crawford will be competing for one of the three goaltending spots with Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith and Braden Holtby. He could slip into the three spot.

TEAM USA (FUCK YEAH!)

Blackhawk Invitees: Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy

Kane has been pushed as "The Face of USA Hockey". So yeah, he's on. Leddy might catch a break as the Americans tend to choose players to fill roles, rather than just load an All-Star Team like Canada does. Plus, with the game being played on an International (read: larger) ice surface, his speed will be a factor. Saad will be competing with a very solid group of forwards, and he might be able to latch onto a 4th line spot. But I think he'll be looking at 2018.

TEAM SWEDEN

Blackhawk Invitees: Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya

Once you put Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jonas Brodin on the roster, that leaves pretty slim pickings for Oduya and Hjalmarsson to compete for. They'll have to beat out the likes of Alexander Edler and Donald Kronwall. I'm not saying they can't, but it won't be easy. In fact, Oduya & Hjalmarsson's combined three Stanley Cups (thanks, Fro) might be something Sweden will look for to improve on their disappointing fifth-place finish in 2010. Is Marcus Kruger one of the 13 best Swedish forwards in the NHL? I think he's swell, but I don't see it. If by some miracle he makes the team, it'll be as a winger. No way he cracks their center lineup.

TEAM FINLAND

Blackhawk Invitee: Antti Raanta


Ahead of Rask, Pekka Rinne and Antti Niemi? No way.

Also, Slovakia hasn't announced their orientation roster yet, or if they are even doing one. But if Marian Hossa and/or Michal Handzus are healthy, one has to believe they're on. Ditto Michal Roszival and the Czech Republic.

So will there be 15 Blackhawks? Probably not. But I'd expect 9 - Toews, Keith, Kane, Leddy, Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Hossa, Handzus and Roszival. I also expect that of these guys, only the two guys from Canada and the two Americans will still be skating when the medal round comes along.

 

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  • 7/24/2013 12:41 AM Fro Dog wrote:
    You said Oduya has three Stanley Cups. Is that a typo? He has only won one.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/24/2013 7:59 AM Fork wrote:
      Sloppy edit, fixed. Thanks.
      Reply to this
  • 7/24/2013 10:42 PM Dave Morris wrote:
    Donald Kronwall - the best Swedish d-meatball not in the NHL.

    And the FHRD (Forkalicious Hockee Ree-Surch Department) scores BIG TIME with that there Russian circus poster. Note that de bear, he like to squeeze de stick eh.
    Reply to this
  • 7/25/2013 9:56 AM pstumba wrote:
    i am posting merely to point out that my words to prove i am not a robot were "bigotry canaach" thats awesome.

    I also agree with the guy above, the advantages with shoes or boots are completely based on your building and the plethora of features that you will find out when forced into isolation with those shoes or boots
    Reply to this

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