From left, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jonathan Ericsson are among six Red Wings who will represent Sweden in the Sochi Olympics. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Scottsdale, Ariz. — The Sochi Olympics begin next month, which means the NHL is taking a break.
But for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite Red Wings player, take heart. The Red Wings dot the Olympic landscape with a large contingent.
Tuesday, the last day countries could name players to their rosters, nine Red Wings joined already-chosen Jimmy Howard (Team USA) heading to Russia for the tournament.
“It’s the best tournament (there is) for hockey players,” said Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk, named to the host country’s squad.
And as expected, there is a heavy Red Wings presence on the Swedish roster.
Forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen, defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson are on the roster. Zetterberg was named Sweden’s captain.
Meanwhile, forwards Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco were selected for the Slovakian team.
“It does speak volumes to the depth of the Red Wings organization,” said associate Red Wings coach Tom Renney, who ran practice Tuesday as coach Mike Babcock was busy announcing his Canadian roster.
Ericsson (ribs) and Franzen (concussion) are currently out, but expected to be ready for the Olympics. Gustavsson (groin) is day-to-day.
“Maybe we can have a starting lineup there one game,” Gustavsson said of the Red Wings contingent. “That would be cool.”
This is Zetterberg’s fourth Olympics, but being named captain made the announcement special.
“It is cool,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve been through good times and bad times, but we have a chance again to go for the gold.”
For Alfredsson, these Games will mean a bit extra.
“When I decided to play another year in the NHL the main thing was to win the Stanley Cup,” said Alfredsson, who at 41 is making his fifth Olympics appearance. “But it being an Olympic year, that became a goal as well.
“I was hoping I could stay healthy and play my way on the team. I just didn’t want a token spot. I’m really excited to have made the team.”
Datsyuk has been looking forward to the Olympics since Sochi was named the host city.
“It’s one step but there are many steps (ahead),” said Datsyuk, who’s day-to-day with a lower body injury. “Every Olympics is special. Now there’s more pressure because we play in front of home fans. But we know why we’re going there, for one reason (to win).”
This is the first Olympics for Tatar and Jurco.
“This is something special,” Tatar said. “It’s big and you want to play good and stand up for your country.”