Czech stunner: Hudler, Vrbata snubbed from Olympic roster

30 Comments

According to news outlet Sport.cz, the Czech Republic has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics — and there are a few very notable omissions.

Calgary’s Jiri Hudler and Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata — the third- and fourth-leading Czech scorers in the NHL this season — have been left off, along with Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Instead, the Czechs have gone with a number of veteran players, including 42-year-old ex-NHLer Peter Nedved and 30-year-old Jiri Novotny, both of whom play in the Czech Extraliga.

Hudler, 30, has 11 goals and 33 points in 41 games this year. The former Red Wing is averaging a career-high 19:01 TOI per game this season and has been highly praised by Flames head coach Bob Hartley.

Vrbata, 32, has 11 goals and 29 points in 39 games this year. The Phoenix sniper scored a career-high 35 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and is second on the team in power play goals this year, with five.

The Czech surprises didn’t end up front.

On defense, there were more curious snubs as well. St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl were all passed over and in their place, a trio of Extraliga blueliners have been selected — Michal Barinka, Lukas Krajicek and former NHLer Tomas Kaberle.

In goal, only one NHL netminder — Pavelec — got the call. The likes of Michal Neuvirth (who said he didn’t expect to make the team), Nashville’s Marek Mazanec and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek were passed over.

Here’s the full roster, as per Sport.cz:

Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar

Defense: Michal Barinka, Michal Rozsival, Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek, Ladislav Smid, Marek Zidlicky

Forward: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Voracek.

UPDATE: Vladimir Sobotka will not be available due to a leg injury. The Czech national team announced that Martin Erat will replace him.

Some other noteworthy omissions include San Jose’s Martin Havlat (currently injured), Washington’s Martin Erat and Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.

Bergeron may need surgery for sports hernia

Getty
Leave a comment

Patrice Bergeron says he may need offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia that he dealt with all year.

Bergeron missed the Bruins’ first three games of the 82-game schedule with a lower-body injury; however, he managed to play the next 79, plus six more in the playoffs as Boston fell to Ottawa in the first round.

Typically, a sports hernia is first treated with rest and physical therapy. Then, if that doesn’t solve the problem, surgery may be required.

It was a frustrating start to the season for the 31-year-old center. Bergeron had just 24 points in 49 games before the All-Star break, but he finished with a respectable 53 points in 79 games, including 21 goals.

Bergeron could win his fourth Selke Trophy in June. He’s a finalist for the award, along with Ryan Kesler and Mikko Koivu.

In other Bruins injury news, Brandon Carlo had a concussion and Torey Krug an MCL injury. Neither d-man was able to suit up for the B’s in the postseason, though Krug was close to returning.

Defenseman Adam McQuaid, hurt in Game 2 against the Sens, had a neck injury.

No Patrick Kane for U.S. at Worlds

Getty
Leave a comment

Tough day for USA Hockey.

After learning that prized Toronto rookie Auston Matthews was skipping the World Hockey Championships, the organization was informed Chicago star Patrick Kane would also be passing on the event.

Kane hasn’t often been able to participate in the Worlds, given he and the Blackhawks have advanced past the first playoff round in five of the last nine years. In fact, the last time Kane played at the Worlds was in 2008, when Chicago missed the playoffs entirely.

(Kane had 10 points in seven games for the Americans that year, en route to a sixth-place finish.)

Matthews cited fatigue as one of the main reasons he passed on this year’s tourney, and it’s safe to assume Kane did the same. He appeared in all 82 games for the ‘Hawks this year, four more in the playoffs, and also represented the U.S. at the World Cup of Hockey.

USA Hockey did manage to secure the services of two important players last week, however. Both Calgary sniper Johnny Gaudreau and Buffalo sophomore Jack Eichel agreed to come aboard.

Gaborik has procedure for ‘chronic’ knee issue, questionable for camp

Getty
Leave a comment

Yesterday, new Kings GM Rob Blake told reporters the club wouldn’t be buying out Marian Gaborik’s contract, because the veteran winger had undergone a medical procedure.

Today, the club shed more light on the situation.

L.A. announced that Gaborik recently underwent an “in-depth medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his left knee,” adding the 35-year-old would be questionable for the start of training camp.

Gaborik’s had left knee problems dating back to 2013, when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He missed nearly 20 games during the ’13-14 campaign, then had more knee troubles at the tail end of ’15-16 (with the Kings).

Since injured players can’t be bought out of their contracts, Gaborik could very well open the year on LTIR, providing the Kings with some much-needed cap space.

And though Blake said next season would “be a clean slate for Marian to come in and prove himself,” there has to be some question if he’ll return.

Gaborik struggled through this season, scoring just 10 goals in 56 games while missing extensive time with a foot injury suffered at the World Cup. Health issues have dogged him throughout his 17-year career, and he’s only dressed in 110 of 164 games over the last two seasons.

Because of this, his contract has become an albatross. Signed by ex-GM Dean Lombardi, Gaborik’s seven-year, $34.125 million deal still has four years remaining, at a $4.875M cap hit. Gaborik would be 39 by the time the deal expires on July 1, 2021.

In other L.A. injury news, three players also underwent medical procedures recently. Tyler Toffoli and Derek Forbort had knee surgery, while Alec Martinez had “a minor medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his groin.” All three are expected to be ready for camp, however.

Blackhawks’ Anisimov suffered high-ankle sprain in mid-March

Getty
Leave a comment

Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov was not himself in the playoffs, and by the fourth game against the Predators his ice time was limited to just 14:18.

It turns out he had a pretty good excuse. Anisimov suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 14 against the Montreal Canadiens, and that’s a tough injury to overcome in less than a month.

Anisimov missed the rest of the regular season with the injury. He returned for the playoffs but failed to register a single point in four losses to Nashville.

“Being away for that time period and coming right back into the playoffs, obviously you’re not as sharp as you want to be,” Anisimov’s agent told the Daily Herald’s John Dietz.