Tomas Plekanec was named to the Czech Republic team that will represent their country at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February.
The fact that Plekanec made the roster is not a shocker, but I was a bit surprised to see that he will be the captain of the team. Plekanec has been to the Olympics before and also suited up for the Czech Republic at seven World Championships, and is being rewarded for his loyalty with the C stitched to his sweater.
Czech Republic had a strong tournament in 2010, finishing the preliminary round in fifth place, ahead of Canada. The Czech team would fall in a tight quarterfinal to Finland 2-0.
The Czech Republic have medaled twice since the NHL has allowed its players to compete in the games. The first time NHL players were involved in the Olympics, Dominik Hasek carried his home nation all the way to a gold medal. Eight years later in 2006, the Czech Republic came away with a bronze medal after shutting out the high flying Russians 3-0 in the bronze medal game.
The Czech’s will be a dark horse once again and will have a hard time finding the podium this year. With no Hasek or even Tomas Vokoun to hold the fort as the team’s goaltender, there will be lots of pressure on their underwhelming group of defenders to shut down the best players in the world. I will mention that that group of D includes former Canadien Tomas Kaberle, which should leave you with no faith in their capabilities.