Four Phoenix Coyotes Invited To Olympic Camps

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Four and Possibly More Phoenix Coyotes Invited To Olympic Camps —

The Phoenix Coyotes have four players that are being invited to their respective counties Olympic orientation camps in preparation for next February’s Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this article, I want to state for the record that I am a huge fan of any type of International Hockey and especially “Olympic Hockey”.  There is a great pride you feel cheering for your countries team but also an under-lying need to cheer for players from your favorite NHL team and in our case we are talking about the Phoenix Coyotes.  This article is a product of me having too much time on my hands and me wondering how a NHL GM or Coach actually look at the Olympic break.

It’s obviously welcomed if you have players that are injured and could use some time off.  There is a sense of organisational pride that your team is being represented.  There is also a fear that one of your teams top players could get injured.  Anyway, let’s carry on.

Mike Smith

Mike Smith has a shot a one of Canada’s 3 goalie positions after a solid WHC in April

Mike Smith (Canada), Keith Yandle (USA), Laurie Korpikoski (Finland) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden) will be vying for roster spots on those teams for the winter games in Sochi, Russia.

The Czech Republic has yet to announce their invitees but I think it woulds be safe to include Zbynek Michalek, Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Rostislav Klesla as players that will be considered. That would make a total of 8 possible Phoenix Coyotes playing in the Winter Olympics.

The final rosters don’t have to be submitted to the IIHF until Dec. 31 so all players are basically auditioning for the first 3 months of the season.

As a hockey fan, you always cheer for your team’s players to do well even if it is wearing a different uniform representing their country at an international event like the Olympics.  You know the Phoenix Coyotes players selected to attend their countries Olympic orientation camps definitely want to make those teams and play in the Olympics.  For some, it will be their first experience while for others it’s the thrill of returning.

Keith _Yandle-2

Yandle is no longer Hockey USA’s forgotten man

Do We Really Want Our Phoenix Coyotes’ Players Participating?

Now in saying all of this, do you think with 22 games in the last 44 days of the regular season following  the Olympic break that  Head Coach Dave Tippett would be overly disappointed if all his Olympic hopefuls didn’t quite make the grade?

This might sound a little harsh but the Coyotes will probably be in a dog fight (pun intended) for a playoff spot and a well rested team heading into the home stretch would be quite an advantage.  This would be especially true in the case of goaltender Mike Smith.  He is probably the key for the Coyotes success in the regular season and in the playoffs. .

Let’s say for arguments sake that Yandle, Michalek, Ekman-Larsson and Klesla all make their respective teams.  That’s four more key players that log big meaningful minutes for Coach Dave Tippett.  All this is hypothetical for now as the team hasn’t been picked.  Can the Phoenix Coyotes or any team for that matter afford to lose a key player to an injury?

I’m just playing devils advocate here but can the Phoenix Coyotes with new ownership afford to miss the playoffs again this season?  The Coyotes lost a golden opportunity to capitalize on a conference final run last summer due to the NHL lockout.

Looking at the Phoenix Coyotes schedule, I think they are poised for a successful season at the gate. New Ownership,a good schedule and a playoff run is just what the doctor ordered for this franchise.  Man, I love the Olympics and especially Olympic hockey but did it have to be this coming February?

Looking at the Phoenix Coyotes’ players being considered, I think that Mike Smith has a legitimate shot at making Team Canada.  He was really good at the World Hockey Championships this past April.

Keith Yandle is no longer the forgotten man in the circles of USA Hockey.  He has paid his dues and I would be surprised if he didn’t make Team USA.

Oliver Ekman Larsson is a lock if there ever was one.  Not only is he one of the Coyotes best players, he is a rising star in the NHL and will be one of Team Sweden’s go to defensemen.

Laurie Korpikoski could be a defensive shutdown specialist for Team Finland.

Now, last but not least.  The Coyotes could have four players in consideration for the Czech Republic. I would think that Martin Hanzel and Radim Vrbata would make the Czech team on their own merit but factor in they are line-mates makes them a very attractive pair.

That leaves Zybenak Michalec and Rusty Klesla as two responsible veteran defenseman that will merit serious consideration.

That is potentially eight Phoenix Coyotes’ regulars banging heads for an extra 3 weeks risking injury and probably fatigue.

Good luck boys!  We hope you make your respective teams and represent your countries well.  We will be pulling for you to make it but we probably won’t be as disappointed as you would be if you don’t.

 


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