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Czech stunner: Hudler, Vrbata snubbed from Olympic roster

Jan 6, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT

JiriHudler

According to news outlet Sport.cz, the Czech Republic has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics — and there are a few very notable omissions.

Calgary’s Jiri Hudler and Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata — the third- and fourth-leading Czech scorers in the NHL this season — have been left off, along with Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Instead, the Czechs have gone with a number of veteran players, including 42-year-old ex-NHLer Peter Nedved and 30-year-old Jiri Novotny, both of whom play in the Czech Extraliga.

Hudler, 30, has 11 goals and 33 points in 41 games this year. The former Red Wing is averaging a career-high 19:01 TOI per game this season and has been highly praised by Flames head coach Bob Hartley.

Vrbata, 32, has 11 goals and 29 points in 39 games this year. The Phoenix sniper scored a career-high 35 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and is second on the team in power play goals this year, with five.

The Czech surprises didn’t end up front.

On defense, there were more curious snubs as well. St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl were all passed over and in their place, a trio of Extraliga blueliners have been selected — Michal Barinka, Lukas Krajicek and former NHLer Tomas Kaberle.

In goal, only one NHL netminder — Pavelec — got the call. The likes of Michal Neuvirth (who said he didn’t expect to make the team), Nashville’s Marek Mazanec and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek were passed over.

Here’s the full roster, as per Sport.cz:

Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar

Defense: Michal Barinka, Michal Rozsival, Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek, Ladislav Smid, Marek Zidlicky

Forward: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Voracek.

UPDATE: Vladimir Sobotka will not be available due to a leg injury. The Czech national team announced that Martin Erat will replace him.

Some other noteworthy omissions include San Jose’s Martin Havlat (currently injured), Washington’s Martin Erat and Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.

  1. devilsarethebest - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Maybe they should double Czech their decisions.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      Zing!

      But really, that’s some terrible choices.

      • thailer35 - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Seriously. Vrbata and Hanzal have played together for several seasons now. Can’t ask for more chemistry.

    • badgerhockey77 - Jan 6, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      Pretty good one there. I almost spit my morning coffee out. lol

  2. kantnockdahustle89 - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    PETER NEDVED!?!?!

    • runhigh24 - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      He does have some chemistry with Jagr from back in the 90s with the Pens. Maybe they should bring Marty Straka too and get the whole gang back together.

    • badgerhockey77 - Jan 6, 2014 at 7:27 PM

      Hey, why not call Straka and Hasek too.

  3. stepanup - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Why would you want to have chemistry? It’s not like Vrbata and Hanzal have been highly productive linemates all season. There’s definitely talent for the Czech’s but those guys should have made it. Sorry Jiri Novotny.

  4. atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    How was Nedved able to go back to playing for the Czech national team after having played for team Canada at the 1994 Olympics? I know in soccer once you play for an adult national team you’re locked in, does the IIHF allow players to bounce back and forth?

    • Brian - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      Fair question. I think Nedved got some kind of exemption, because they changed the rules sometime in the late 90’s after his Team Canada stint. Nabokov got a similar exemption to play for Russia, because he’d previously played for Kazakhstan in an IIHF event.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        That makes sense then, perhaps Canada can get an exemption or two for Finnish goalies?

    • ThatGuy - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      No Exemption needed. You can change Eligibility once after first establishing a country, but it requires 4 years of playing in that country. Nedved last played for Canada in 1994, and went back to Czech league in 2007. He played four years before switching team in 11/12. Appropriate clause listed below from the IIHFs website.

      Change of national eligibility (The ‘four-year’ case)
      A player, who has previously participated in IIHF competition, can switch national eligibility (but only once in a player’s life) if:

      He is a citizen of the new country of his choice
      He has participated for at least four consecutive years in the national competitions of his new country, during which period he has neither transferred to another country nor played ice hockey within any other country and has not played for his previous country in an IIHF competition during this four year period.
      He has an international transfer card (ITC) that shows the transfer to the national association of his new country and which was approved and dated at least four years before the start of the IIHF competition in which he wishes to participate.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:02 PM

        Thank you for the info!

      • Brian - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:57 PM

        Good info, thanks.

  5. Brian - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Wow. Stunner is right. Taking Nedved and Novotny over Vrbata, Hudler, and Fleischmann is insane enough, but taking Palat and Michalek, who’s having an awful season, is just as bad. As for the defense, well, Polak has a broken ankle and Kindl’s been up and down, but they’re really going to regret leaving Hejda off, especially over old, washed-up Tomas Kaberle and Lukas Krajicek, who’s awful. And I know Barinka had a cup of coffee in the NHL but that was a long time ago. Marek Zidlicky? Michael Rozsival?

    This isn’t 1998, the Czechs can’t rely on their goalie to get them to the medal round in a series of 1-0 or 2-1 games. Because he’s Ondrej Pavelec, not Dominik Hasek, and he’s not very good.

  6. devilsarethebest - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Pretty bad choice of a captain with Plekanec in my opinion. Should have been Jagr after all he’s done for his country and his experience. Plekanec has never even captained a team to my knowledge, but this is just another one of many mess-ups here.

    • bsaures - Jan 6, 2014 at 5:00 PM

      Plekanec is the best choice for captain on the team. He already is a assistant captain on the Habs plays in every situation both PK and PP. He has represented the country several times already. he has arguably been the best player on this team since the last Olympics

  7. sens101 - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    wow. Terrible decision making. They are clearly favouring some players who play in Europe rather than the NHL.

  8. jernster21 - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    Forget just for the Avalanche, Hejda has been one of the top shutdown defenseman in the entire league this year in my opinion – the fact that he didn’t make this team is a complete joke. Given that this could end up being the last time that NHL players compete in the Olympics for the foreseeable future, I think they will regret their selections.

  9. lowenni - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    That’s unbelievable, I don’t know how you leave players like Hudler and Vrbata off an already week roster. Instead you put Roman Cervenka in? There’s something not right there. Perhaps they’re trying to make a point against the NHL and support their own league, but they’ve given up their chances to win before the Games’ have even started.

  10. theageofquarrel - Jan 6, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    This is why Nedved is playing!!!!!!!! Hahahahaha,I kid. He shouldn’t be taking up a roster spot for someone more deserving.

  11. amityvillefun - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Kaberle – the man who flat out refuses to shoot from the point. ’nuff said!

  12. matt14gg - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    The Kaberle pick is shameful.

  13. gandallk - Jan 6, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    No Martin Havlat?there goes the bronze medal.

  14. lonespeed - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    I wonder if Jiri Tlusty was left off because of the appendectomy he had which will cause him to miss 2-3 weeks. He is having a down year this year, but he scored more than 20 goals in a shortened season last year and would have no doubt been an all-star selection had a all-star game been played.

    I think he’s a bad non-add.

  15. hosewater2 - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    There has to be some political motivation to this. We all know how the KHL likes to think of itself in the same sentence as the NHL, guess the same is true for Czech Extralgia.

  16. djshnooks - Jan 6, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Hasek could still play…and would be better than the goalies they have.

  17. storminator16 - Jan 6, 2014 at 6:46 PM

    I can’t believe some of you get your panties in such a twist over these teams…

  18. crazemastercraze - Jan 6, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    Kaberle? BWAHAHAHAHAHAH

  19. brockohol - Jan 7, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    As a Blues fan I see how good Polak is every game, however being that he is a defensive d man, I understand that the avg fan would not recognize that. But for the supposed hockey authority of an Olympic hockey team not to be aware of this is another. Polak has played on past national teams so its not like he is unknown. He ankle injury is about healed (might play this week) so that is no excuse. Just baffling.

    No need to mention some of these other players left off because its so insane I can’t even wrap my head around it. If I were some of these guys I would permanently wash my hands of any future Czech related hockey whether it be world camps’s, Olympics, etc… It’s just idiotic.

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