What was once a single-country in Central Europe, eventually split during the Velvet Revolution into two separate territories over 17 years ago, in the Velvet Divorce. These two countries are now just moments away from lacing up the skates and facing-off in some steady competition tonight. Ice Hockey teams’ from Slovakia and the Czech Republic will each do battle in their first Olympic contest of 2010 in Vancouver, BC, Canada at 11:55pm EST.
Thirteen NHLers make up the Slovakian roster; including Boston Bruins forward Miroslav Satan, and Slovakian Captain, defenseman Zdeno Chara.
Forrmer Bruins’ players such as Jozef Stumpel [1991-97 & 2001-03], who is currently playing in the Kontinental Hockey League [KHL] in Russia, will also reprecent Slovakia – as is defenseman Milan Jurcina [2005-07] who is skating with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Slovakia’s fire-power will be coming from Blackhawks’ superstar Marian Hossa [17-17-34], and New York Rangers’ forward Marian Gaborik [35-34-69]. It’s going to be fun to watch the reemergence of former NHL All Star, Zigmund Pálffy. Last season, the 37-year-old Pálffy registered 52-47-99 totals in 53 games played for Skalica HK36 team in the Slovak Extraliga.
Sixteen NHL players make up Team Czech for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Czechs are headlined by former NHL sensation Jaromir Jagr, 38, who is now playing in the KHL. Center David Krejci [11-20-30] is the lone Boston Bruin on Team Czech – while Tomas Fleischmann, who is having a decent season with 43 points, represents the Washington Capitals.
Former Maple Leaf teammates from 2006-09, Pavel Kubina – currently with the Atlanta Thrashers [for now] – and Tomas Kaberle will reunite as they both man the blue-line for their home country Czechoslovakia.
Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers – who is having a great individual season himself – could be playing for another NHL team by the time this tournament is over. The 33-year-old net-minder has a career 2.46 goals-against average in Olympic competition.