On Friday, Slovakian Olympic GM Otto Sykora expressed confusion as to why New York Islanders GM Garth Snow isn’t allowing defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to play in Sochi.
“If it’s possible he can play and he says he’s okay, he can play, I really don’t understand why he not can play,” Sykora said at Slovak Point in the Adler train station following a media conference with Slovakian defenceman Zdeno Chara.
“If he is injured, we accept this. If he say he’s not injured and he can play and (Snow) say we don’t let him go, we don’t understand this.”
Sykora said he planned to talk to Snow on Friday night. Sykora said the Games are big deal to Visnovsky, 37, since this likely will be his last chance to play at the five-ring circus and the Olympic tournament is a big deal in Slovakia.
“For Lubomir Visnovsky this is last chance to play for national team,” said Sykora. “If he not play, it’s not good for him. He is same than Zdeno Chara and Visnovsky, big here in Slovakia.”
Visnovsky missed 46 games this year with a concussion, but returned to action on Jan. 27 and has played five straight games with no setbacks. The Isles have been using him extensively, as well — Visnovsky’s played at least 19 minutes in every game since returning, including 22:08 in his first appearance (a 6-3 loss to Boston).
Back in January, Snow stated he and the club wouldn’t grant Visnovsky his release for the games and yesterday, he confirmed it.
“We just don’t feel comfortable letting him go,” Snow told Newsday.
Not having Visnovsky would be a tough pill to swallow for Slovakia, a country with only 13 active NHLers and already down the services of one — Marian Gaborik, who was ruled out by Columbus on Thursday as his broken collarbone has yet to fully heal.