Feb 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with defenseman Johnny Oduya (27), center Jonathan Toews (19) and left wing Patrick Sharp (10) against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
If the Central Division had a ranking according to how many players the 7 teams are sending to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the Chicago Blackhawks would be in the lead. The Blackhawks are sending 10 players to represent their countries, while the St. Louis Blues trail by one with 9. There is a three-way tie between the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and Winnipeg Jets with 4 representatives each at the Olympics. The Dallas Stars will send 3 and the Nashville Predators will send 2. The Central Division is sending 36 players and representing 8 countries in Sochi for the Olympics.
Joining Patrick Kane for the United States (8) are 7 Central Division opponents Captain David Backes, Kevin Shattenkirk, and T.J. Oshie from the Blues, Paul Stastny from the Avalanche, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter from the Wild, and Blake Wheeler from the Jets.
Captain Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Sharp all received an invitation to represent team Canada (8) in Sochi. Joining them are 5 countrymen from the Central Division: Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo from the Blues, Matt Duchene from the Avalanche, Captain Jamie Benn from the Stars, and Captain Shea Weber from the Predators.
Sweden (6) invited Blackhawks defense partners Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson along with forward Marcus Kruger to represent their home country in Sochi. The three Blackhawks will be joined by Patrick Berglund and Alexander Steen from the Blues, and Captain Gabriel Landeskog from the Avalanche.
Michael Rozsival will represent the Blackhawks for the Czech Republic (4) in Sochi. He will be joined by Vladimir Sobotka (injured) from the Blues and Ondrej Pavelec and former Blackhawk Michael Frolik from the Jets.
Goalie Antti Raanta is the only Finland native on the Blackhawks roster, and he did not receive an invitation to the Olympics. But he still has time to try out for the 2018 Finnish team. Finland (4) did invite Mikko Koivu (injured) and Mikael Granlund from the Minnesota Wild, Olli Jokinen from the Jets, and goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the Stars.
Marian Hossa will join his countryman and Blackhawks teammate Michael Handzus and play for Slovakia (3). They will have one of the best goaltenders in the Central Division guarding their net with Jaroslav Halak from the Blues.
Another goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, is the only one on the Blackhawks roster able to represent the Olympic home team, Russia (3). Khaby is out for the rest of the season with an injury, so we’ll assume that is why he did not receive an invitation from Russia. But the Central Division will be sending Vladimir Tarasenko from the Blues, goaltender Semyon Varlamov from the Avalanche, and Valeri Nichushkin from the Stars.
There are no Swiss natives on the Blackhawks roster, but Nino Niederreiter from the Wild and Roman Josi from the Predators will represent the Central Division for team Switzerland (2).
You can see a complete NHL/Olympics roster here.
Which country do you think will benefit the most from their Central Division players in the Olympics?