12/29/2009 4:53 PM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
Tuesday morning brought news that at least two members of the Blackhawks would be traveling to Vancouver in February to represent their country, as Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky were selected to represent Slovakia in the Winter Olympics.
“It’s always an honor when they pick you,” said Hossa. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
“It’s something to be proud of,” Kopecky said. “It’s exciting to represent your country.”
The 2010 Olympic Games will be the third Olympics appearance for Hossa and the first for Kopecky. The Slovakian team was eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the 2006 tournament in Turin, Italy, and Hossa tallied six points (2 G, 4 A) in those six games.
“It’s a tight schedule, but you have to try and enjoy the atmosphere there,” Hossa said. “How often are you going to be there?”
“There was no question that [Hossa] was going to make it,” said Kopecky, “[but] I’m really happy about going there and representing my country. The last time I did that was in the World Junior Championships, so it’s going to be a new experience for me and a big one.”
Joining the two Blackhawks will be Hossa’s brother and former NHL forward Marcel Hossa, who is currently playing in Russia’s KHL. The brothers competed together in the 2006 Games.
“My brother is having a great season in the Russian League, leading the league in goals,” Hossa said. “This will be a good chance to play together again.”
Both Hossa and Kopecky are excited to play with one another in Vancouver and to hopefully take home a gold medal for their country.
“They have some nice players on their team,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “They’re going into that tournament a little under the radar, but they can beat anybody. Everybody can gain something by representing their country and competing for a championship.”
“When you look at our roster, it looks pretty good on paper,” Hossa said. “You have to be optimistic. It’s going to be great being in the tournament and I know we can surprise somebody.”
Injury update: Quenneville said after the morning skate that both defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Kris Versteeg will play tonight against Dallas. Both sat out the previous two games with an undisclosed illness.