With the 2013 calendar year coming to a close, the eyes of many a sports fan will turn to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Olympics are less than two months away, and already speculation is heating up about who will participate in the hockey tournament. The NHL will be taking a two-week break while its stars represent their respective countries. The Chicago Blackhawks, being one of the better teams in the league, look to lose some of their players. But which of the Blackhawks will be going to Sochi?
Admittedly, this is both a difficult and easy question to answer. It is almost certain that the Blackhawks’ stars will represent their countries in Sochi. But which stars is the other question.
In terms of Team Canada, it is almost certain that Jonathan Toews will be centering. He was picked back in 2010 during his breakout season and he’s going through another successful season. The bigger question is will he be Team Canada’s captain? While Sidney Crosby is the obvious choice, there is clear debate among pundits about whether Toews is better suited to be team captain over Crosby. For the sake of opinion, Toews should be Team Canada captain. He’s a proven leader who’s helped save this franchise from the doldrums of the early 2000s.
As for the others, that one might be a little more difficult. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are also obvious choices, given how they performed back in 2010. There is also talk that Patrick Sharp should finally get the recognition he deserves. As for Andrew Shaw, it’s highly unlikely that Mike Babcock and the higher-ups at Hockey Canada will pick him. Corey Crawford has also entered the debate for goalie, given his performance during the playoffs.
On the American side, there is also no doubt Patrick Kane will be picked to represent the red, white and blue. Kane has been having a phenomenal year and looks to win his first Hart Trophy and/or scoring title. He is currently second behind Crosby. Leaving Kane off the Olympic roster would be suicidal for USA Hockey. Brandon Saad is also a topic of discussion. Saad’s play last year earned him a Calder Trophy nomination and even though was snubbed, he’s continued to play well. On the defensive side, Nick Leddy was invited to the USA camp, but given the American depth on defense, it’s unlikely he’ll be chosen.
On the Swedish side, this is a little more difficult. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Johnny Oduya are all playing well, but only Kruger has been getting Olympic talk. Kruger’s play on the fourth line makes for enticing Olympic talk, and he could get the invitation from the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.
Slovaks Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus are also being discussed. Hossa is a no-brainer given his scoring abilities and Handzus might sneak in to lineup if he’s ready to go.
And to finish things off, Antti Raanta is also getting rumors. But it’s likely that Pekka Rinna or Antti Niemi will get the nod for the Finland goalkeeper.
The only obvious answer is that not every Blackhawk will be making the trip to Sochi, and thus, this is simply speculation. But it’s interesting to see which of the Blackhawks gets an invitation to head to Russia for the Olympics. How the Blackhawks can keep their hot streak going after the Olympics is a completely different article, but the Hawks should be well-represented in Sochi. Look for a few Hawks to make the trip to Russia.