Late surprise: Martin out for U.S., Faulk to make Olympic debut

16 Comments

The U.S. will be without one of its veteran defensive presences for Friday’s huge semifinal tilt with Canada.

Pittsburgh’s Paul Martin — third among American blueliners in time on ice per game this tournament — has been dropped from the lineup and will be replaced by Carolina’s Justin Faulk, USA Hockey announced. Faulk will be making his Olympic debut against the Canadians, having sat as a healthy scratch for the U.S.’s first four games of the tourney.

It’s unclear why Martin was dropped, though speculation suggests he’s dealing with illness. (Update: hand injury.) The 32-year-old is plus-2 thus far in the tournament and played over 19 minutes in a 5-2 win over the Czechs in the quarters.

This setback is the latest in Martin’s curious Olympic career. He’s been named to the U.S. national team three times — 2006 in Turin, ’10 in Vancouver — but never dressed for a game until the Sochi tournament opener against Slovakia. Martin was an extra d-man in Turin and broke his forearm prior to Vancouver.

Faulk, 21, is the youngest player on the American roster. The Carolina rearguard does have some international experience, having represented the U.S. in each of the last three World Hockey Championships.