| Olympic selections a good thing
More work required of eight players
With Team USA announcing its roster for the
upcoming Olympic hockey tournament last Friday, NHL teams now know how their
rosters will be impacted during the two week break starting February 15th.
Eight Sharks will be making the trek to Vancouver in search of international
glory, but how will the Sharks fare once those players return from their
The Sharks placed the highest number of players on
Olympic rosters, which means that more than a third of San Jose s lineup
will be playing additional games this season. To win a gold medal in Vancouver
, players must win six games (seven if their team does not win its preliminary
Playing 82 regular season hockey games and up to 28 additional
playoff games is a grind, but throw in seven additional games crammed into a 13
day period just a month and a half before the playoffs, and you have one long
season. Yes, these are elite athletes that are well conditioned, but hockey is
a contact sport. Think of the most grueling workout youve ever had and
imagine replicating that 100+ times over an eight month stretch.
Jose has playoff demons to exercise, but theyre not making it any easier
on themselves by placing so many players in the 21st Winter Olympiad. Will the
extra work load take a toll on the eight players that will represent Canada ,
Germany , Russia , Sweden and the United States ?
In 2006, Joe
Thornton was the only Shark player who saw extended action in Torino , Italy .
Christian Ehrhoff and Marcel Goc represented Germany , but their tournament
ended early. With the relative light participation in the international
tournament, the Sharks were able to rest its players for their push.
They would finish the regular season with an 18-6-3 record following the Torino
games, including a string of eight straight wins in April. The 5th seeded
Sharks would defeat Nashville four games to one in the conference
quarter-finals, before dropping four of six games to the 8th seeded Edmonton
Oilers in the conference semi-finals that year.
Some say the Sharks
peaked too early in 2006, much like last season, and the results were something
San Jose hopes to avoid for a sixth consecutive year.
Of the eight players that will represent the Sharks,
seven have a legitimate shot at going deep into the tournament.
Thornton will be joined by Dany Heatley, and first time Olympians Patrick
Marleau and Dan Boyle on a star-studded Canadian roster. Goaltender Evgeni
Nabokov will lead the Russian contingent. Swedish defenseman Douglas Murray
makes his first Olympic appearance, and hopes to help his countrymen repeat as
Olympic champions. Centerman Joe Pavelski was the final Sharks player named, as
the Unites States announced their roster on Friday.
Greiss is the only long shot to play deep into the Vancouver tournament, as his
German squad is light on NHL representation. Team Germany will only field six
players who are currently on NHL rosters. Only Canada and the United States
will field rosters comprised completely of NHL players.
the fewest NHLers, with Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ole Kristian Tollefsen
the only representative. Latvia and Switzerland will field teams with two NHL
Canada is the odds-on favorite to bring home the gold
medal, which means the Sharks could have half its Olympic contingent playing in
the full complement of games.
While an Olympic champion will be
crowned on February 28th, the true effect of the tournament may not really be
recognized until June. Hopefully for San Jose , they dont find out what
that impact is any sooner than that.
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