Seven Players From Lightning Organization Headed To Sochi
By Tuesday afternoon the Tampa Bay Lightning had a total of seven different players within their organization named to their respective country's teams for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but with an earlier possibility of 10, the Bolts saw some noteworthy omissions.
Radko Gudas (CZE), Ondrej Palat (CZE), Kristers Gudlevskis (LAT), Richard Panik (SVK), Valtteri Filppula (FIN), Sami Salo (FIN) and Steven Stamkos (CAN) are the bunch who will be heading to Sochi in February, yet three of the Lightning's standouts this season – Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman and Martin St. Louis – were left off of Team USA, Sweden and Canada's rosters, respectively.
"If you're going to look at the three guys who're driving the bus at each position on our team, its Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman and Martin St. Louis," head coach Jon Cooper said. "It's a shame that the hockey world isn't going to see those three guys play in February. I don't know where our team would be without those three."
STAMKOS, COOPER REACT TO ST. LOUIS' SNUB
Linemate and close friend of St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, said he felt for the Bolts' captain, who was also left off of Team Canada's roster in 2010.
"I don't know what more you can do or expect from him to be able to make this team," Stamkos said. "For me it was tough to see Marty as upset as he was, he may not admit it, but he's worked extremely hard to try to put himself in the mix."
However Stamkos and Cooper both agreed that if anything, Tuesday's announcement will fuel St. Louis as the team continues ahead in their playoff push.
"If there's one guy who can unfortunately handle it, it's Marty," Cooper said. "Knowing Marty, this is probably going to motivate the snot out of him."
"We really need him on this team," Stamkos said. "He's a warrior, he's a competitor, he's going to come out stronger."
HEDMAN HOPED PERFORMANCE WAS X-FACTOR
Hedman said he was not shocked by being left off of Sweden's Olympic team, but felt he had played the best hockey of his career this season and hoped that would have been enough for him to make the roster.
The fifth-year pro said he has known about his absence from the team for more than a week after being notified by e-mail.
"They said if someone got hurt, I'd be on standby," Hedman said. "But for me I just need to keep focusing on playing well for Tampa and if something happens I'll be ready."
Sweden's Olympic committee did not offer any specifics on why he did not make the team.
Hedman's family and friends immediately showed their support via text and phone calls.
NO. 91's OLYMPIC NOD "TRUMPS EVERYTHING"
While there's seemed to be outside pressure surrounding Stamkos on wether he would be ready in time for the Olympics, Stamkos has used it more as a personal goal to push himself during rehab.
"We had talks leading up to this announcement that I'd do everything I could to try and be ready for the Olympics," Stamkos said. "If I can't go there'll be a replacement made, but for right now they told me to do everything I can to make sure I'm ready and hopefully it works out."
No. 91 said being named to Canada's roster was a "dream come true" and that he was "very honored and humbled to be a part of the team."
As for an update on his recovery?
Stamkos said he had back-to-back tough skates in Edmonton and Winnipeg, followed by a shorter session today and he has also ramped up his off-ice workouts.
"You just don't want to have a setback right now, that's been the main objective," he said.
OTHER BOLTS REPRESENTING
The Syracuse-area media spoke with Tampa Bay goaltending prospect Kristers Gudlevskis following Team Latvia's announcement. The 21-year-old netminder, who has exceeded expectations and quickly progressed from the ECHL to the AHL thus far this year, said it was going to be a "good challenge," but that he isn't focused on the tournament just yet. At this point he is more concerned on the Crunch, winning games and getting points.
Monday Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat learned they were going to be representing the Czech Republic together. Read their reactions here.
Head athletic trainer, Tom Mulligan, and head equipment manager, Ray Thill, will also serve as part of the support staff for the U.S. Men's Ice Hockey Team. Read their story here