WINNIPEG – Four members of the Winnipeg Jets will be heading to Sochi next month for the 2014 Winter Games.
Olli Jokinen was named to Finland’s men’s Olympic hockey team Tuesday for the fourth time in his career. The forward already has a bronze medal and a silver medal from his first three appearances.
“You can’t lose your focus,” said Jokinen. “Your focus is here. To start thinking about the Olympics right now, that’s not the way I do business.”
Jokinen will join fellow Jets Blake Wheeler (U.S.A.), Michael Frolik (Czech Republic) and Ondrej Pavelec (Czech Republic), who were previously named to their national teams, in Russia.
The Jets, though, won’t have a representative on Team Canada.
Andrew Ladd was left off the roster despite attending this summer’s orientation camp in Calgary.
“There’s a lot of great talent in this country and a lot of great players,” said the Jets captain. “I don’t think I’ve played up to my standards, so I guess I didn’t really have the expectation to be named. But I hope they bring back gold.”
“We had hard decisions to make,” said Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman. “We have so many tremendous players to choose from. That’s what makes it so difficult.”
Even though he’s been out with a broken leg since early November, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos was among those who made the cut.
“It’s a very exciting day,” said Stamkos. “I’m very honoured and humbled to be named to (Team Canada).”
But as exciting as it was for Stamkos, he was also disappointed for his teammate, Martin St. Louis. The Quebec native is probably Canada’s most glaring omission, getting skipped over for the second straight Olympic Games.
“He was a little emotional when he got the news,” said Stamkos. “It’s tough. I don’t know what more you can do or expect from him.”
Just as dismayed by St. Louis’ exclusion is Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
“If you were going to look at the three guys driving the bus at each position on our team, it’s Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman and Marty St. Louis,” said Cooper. “It’s a shame that the hockey world is not going to see any of those three guys play in February. Knowing Marty, this is probably going to motivate the snot out of him.”
Three Winnipeg-born players will be featured prominently on Team Canada — the Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharpe and Duncan Keith.
The great Canadian debate on who should have made the lineup will rage on right through the Olympics. Joe Thornton, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, Brent Seabrook and Logan Couture were some of the other notable players passed over.
Jokinen, who already has a bronze medal and a silver medal from his first three appearances, didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
“You can’t lose your focus. Your focus is here. To start thinking about Olympics right now, that’s not the way I do business,” said Jokinen.
© Shaw Media, 2014