Quintet of Flyers set to skate in Sochi Games
The bad news that Claude Giroux won’t be going to Sochi to represent team Canada next month in the Olympics, barring a rash of injuries, overshadowed good news for five of his Flyer teammates.
No less than five Flyers will be heading to Russia, though it’s likely only three have any shot at a medal. That won’t stop Michael Raffl (Austria) or Mark Streit (Switzerland) from playing for their countries, with Streit going for the fourth time.
Which still leaves him one behind fellow defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who first played for Finland in Nagano, Japan, 1998 and has since gone to Salt Lake City, Turin, Italy and Vancouver.
Andrej Meszaros, who’s had a hard time this year cracking the Flyers lineup on a regular basis, had no such problems earning a roster spot for Slovakia for the third time.
Finally Jakub Voracek will make his Olympic debut for the Czech Republic, which won the gold in Nagano and a bronze in Turin, but finished seventh in Vancouver.
Not only were he and his family thrilled, he’s looking forward to playing again with Jaromir Jagr.
“The Olympics is the highest [honor] you can get for your country,’’ said the 24-year-old Voracek, who’s been hot of late with five goals and nine assists in his last 11 games. “I can’t wait. It’s very special.’’
Even for those who’ve been there before.
“It’s a great experience and I’m really looking forward to the challenge,’’ said the 36-year-old Streit, whose Swiss team placed eighth in 2010. “Switzerland has big expectations this year.’’
Probably not as big as Slovakia, which made it to the medal round in Vancouver before losing in the semis to Canada and then faltered in the bronze medal game to Timonen’s Finns.
“Vancouver was amazing,’’ said Meszaros, who’ll be joined by players like Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and goalie Jaroslav Halak. “I think it’s the biggest goal you can achieve. Playing for your team is one thing. Playing for your country another thing entirely.”
That never changes no matter how often you wear your home colors.
“I’m very proud to be named to the Finnish team for the fifth time,’’ said the 38-year-old Timonen, who still yields seniority to six-time Olympian Teemu Selanne. “It means you’re old. But it also means you’ve played this game at a high level for a long time.”
The 12-team tournament gets underway February 8, with the gold medal to be decided Feb. 23.