Anze Kopitar is representing Slovenia in the Olympics and he has his father, Matjaz, there as the coach. One player who isn’t there is his younger brother Gaspar.
Gaspar was thought to be an automatic addition to the team because of his experience playing in North America, but he didn’t make the team.
As Andy Potts at IIHF.com shares, leaving Gaspar off the team was hard on all the Kopitars.
“In the end I think the coach made the right decision but it was very hard for him and my brother – and for me, for that matter. Gaspar’s playing in the ECHL and they won’t have a break so he’s staying over there [during the Games].”
Having things be such a family affair in Slovenia makes for one of the more interesting stories. Especially with Kopitar being such a big star in the NHL. He’ll have just one former NHL player on the roster to team up with in former Detroit Red Wings prospect Jan Mursak, but not having your kid brother there to join in the fun is a bit of a bummer.
Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is one of Canada’s three goalies in Sochi, and with that he knows what the expectations are.
Smith tells the Coyotes’ website what he thinks of Canada’s chances are at the Olympic Games and he knows it’s gold or bust.
“The expectation is (to win) a gold medal. Anything else is a failure.” Smith said. “That pressure is fun to be a part of. I think everyone expects us to win gold. It’s gotten a lot harder over the years with how good everyone else has gotten and kind of caught up to Canada in a sense, but that makes it that much more fun.”
Those words might be blunt, but he’s not wrong.
Canada has arguably the best talent in Sochi and they are the odds on favorites to win gold. Add this along with Don Cherry saying it would be a “disaster” if Canada doesn’t win gold and you’ve got sky-high expectations.
He might not factor into whether or not Canada wins gold (he’s backing up Carey Price and Roberto Luongo), but Smith knows the stakes on the line.
The Czech Republic might be without one of their top defensemen when they open up against Sweden on Wednesday.
Czech coach Alois Hadamczik tells iSport (via TheScore) Tampa Bay Lightning blue liner Radko Gudas is battling a fever and may not play. Gudas had been paired up with Flames defenseman Ladislav Smid during practice.
Hadamczik played it mysteriously as to who would take Gudas’ spot if he’s out saying they have seven defensemen and six will play. The candidates to jump in are former NHL defensemen Lukas Krajicek and Michal Barinka. Those two were part of the fourth pairing at practice.
It goes without saying that going without a starter on defense against Sweden is asking for trouble. The Czechs are in Group C with the Swedes, Switzerland, and Latvia.