Eight Ducks, Five Kings Headed To Olympics

The Ducks make up key parts of team Canada and Finland, the Kings team USA.

The calls started coming in while the Ducks were on a team bus headed to LAX. First Ryan Getzlaf’s phone rang, then Corey Perry’s then Scott Niedermayer’s. Each time, the voice on the other end said, “Congratulations, you are a member of the Canadian National Hockey Team for the Vancouver Olympics.”

What may be the most talent-laden hockey tournament ever will feature 13 players from the Kings and Ducks representing their country. It’s a big honor — and a lot of pressure.

No players are going to feel more pressure than the ones representing Canada. Hockey is Canada’s national sport. In Los Angeles young boys all grow up as basketball fans and playing some baseball — in Canada it’s all hockey. It is a national obsession, played on frozen ponds and watched on televisions at night sheltered from the frigid outside. Canadians feel they should win the gold medal — and not to do so on their home ice would be an embarrassment.

Niedermayer has been named the Canadian team captain. His team will include his two teammates plus Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

The Kings, however, are more heavily represented on Team USA. Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and goaltender Jonathon Quick have all been named to represent the red, white and blue just north of the border. The Ducks Bobby Ryan will join them.

One of Canada’s biggest challenges will come from Finland, the silver medalists four years ago who return a deep lineup. That includes two key members of the Ducks — Saku Koivu, who has been named Finland team captain, and Teemu Selanne.

Michal Handzus from the Kings will be part of a Slovakian team not expected to do too much on the ice. Jonas Hiller and Luca Sbisa, a defensive prospect currently playing for Lethbridge Hurricanes but property of the Ducks, both will suit up for Switzerland.

It is possible this is the last Olympics where the NHL takes a mid-season vacation to let players suit up for their national teams. There was no way the league would let pass the opportunity to sell its sport here in North America — when the games can be scheduled at times good for television — but in four years in Sochi, Russia, things could be different. No deal has been struck.

The NHL needs a boost right now, they need this tournament to go well. Which is just another level of pressure on these players to perform and produce. Especially Niedermayer and his Canadian counterparts.

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