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Columbus Blue Jackets Will be Well Represented at Winter Olympics
While the National Hockey League participates in its fifth, and most likely final Winter Olympic games in Sochi, the Columbus Blue Jackets will be well represented in the winter games.
Surprisingly in their history, the Jackets have a number of players to the Olympics.
They had four players at the 2006 Games in Turin. Then four years ago in Vancouver, six players that’ Carry The Flag’ during the season, including Rick Nash who participated in two Olympics while with the Jackets and was part of the Gold Medal winning Canadian team.
This time, the team will have representatives both on and off the ice on the west coast of the Black Sea.
Head coach Todd Richards will serve as one of the assistants for Team USA under Pittsburgh Penguins head man Dan Bylsma, while General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen will be serving as Assistant General Manager for Team Finland under Hall of Famer and multiple Stanley Cup Champion, Jari Kurri, who helped his home country win a bronze medal at the 1998 Games in Nagano–the first time NHL players were eligible to play in the Games.
This season, the Jackets will have five players representing their countries with four of them coming from the host country Russia.
Leading the CBJ Delegation is Sergei Bobrovsky. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is back on his game after sustaining a groin injury in November. This is his first trip to the Olympics, and he will be in a heated competition as he battles Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov. At the break, Bobrovsky is 20-14-3 with a 2.56 goals against average.
The Jackets have a pair of defenseman to add to a strong Russian back line that includes Andreu Markov and Alexi Elelin of Montreal along with Slava Voynov of Los Angeles.
Nikita Nikitin was part of Russia’s gold medal winning team at the 2012 IIHF World Championships. Currently this season with the Jackets he has scored only two goals and has 12 assists (14 points). However, he is among the tops on the team in plus/minus, currently a +6 at the break as he participates in his first Olympic Games.
The other defenseman is the veteran Fedor Tuytin. This will be his third Olympic Games, having played in both Turin and Vancouver. This season, Tyutin has scored four goals and added 20 assists for 24 points, but also has a +1 rating. He is among the leaders on CBJ with 94 blocked shots and averages 21:34 of ice time per game.
Joining a group of power-packed Russian forwards Artem Anisimov.
One of the key players the Jackets acquired in the Nash trade in the 2012 offseason, the 25-year old has become one of the top offensive threats on the Jackets with 13 goals and 13 assists for 26 points. The 25-year old will be participating in his first Olympic Tournament.
The final Jackets’ player selected for the games was Marian Gaborik. Ruled out of the games due to a broken collarbone, it would have been his third Olympics playing for Slovakia. A decorated star internationally for his country, the former Dulka Trenchin star has played just 18 games this season for CBJ with five goals and seven assists for 12 points and has a +2 raiting.
Could there have been any other players off the Jackets roster in Sochi? If Nathan Horton did not suffer that shoulder injury that cost him the first half of this season, he could have been considered for Team Canada while players like Ryan Johansen and Ryan Murray were just youngsters getting their first taste of the NHL.
One of the biggest ‘snubs’ on the Team USA roster was Jack Johnson. When announcing the team, General Manager David Poile said he wanted a youthful team with speed playing on the larger ice surface (the Olympics are played n rinks 200’X100’ compared to the 200’X85’ in the NHL.). Johnson played well at the 2012 games as Team USA won the silver medal losing to Canada in the Gold Medal Game on Sidney Crosby’s winning goal in overtime.
Let the tournament begin with the Jackets well represented both on and off the ice in Sochi.
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