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Red Wings sending 10 to the Olympics

Six Swedes lead Red Wings' assemblage to Sochi, Russia, next month

Tuesday, 01.7.2014 / 1:07 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  -
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Red Wings sending 10 to the Olympics
Jimmy Howard acknowledges the fans at Michigan Stadium during the USA Hockey announcement that the Red Wings' goalie will represent his country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – As expected, the Red Wings will have a strong presence at the Sochi Olympics next month with 10 players, a head coach and general manager scattered among five national teams.

But it’s the Swedish team that will have the biggest Detroit congregation led by captain Henrik Zetterberg, forward Daniel Alfredsson and defenseman Niklas Kronwall. All three were members of Tre Kroner’s gold-medal win at the Turin Games in 2006.

“This will be my fourth Olympics and the other three have been unreal experiences,” Zetterberg said last week. “You just go there and play for your country and it’s not just hockey. You’re part of a group with other athletes and you experience their successes and their failures and their preparations and it’s a great two weeks. I’m looking forward to this one just as much as I did the past ones. It’s been a few tough defeats and we won the gold in Turin, so I’ve been through it all and hopefully we can get another gold.”

Alfredsson, who will be playing in his fifth Olympic Games, has 11 goals and 12 assists with a plus-13 rating in 20 career Olympic contests. The 41-year-old Swede has 11 goals and 30 points in 37 games this season with the Red Wings.

Joining the Red Wings’ Big 3 are first-time Olympian Jonathan Ericsson, and forward Johan Franzen and goalie Jonas Gustavsson – both played in the 2010 Vancouver Games where Sweden finished in fifth place.

Representing their hockey-crazy country is very special to the Swedes, who take the Olympics as serious as they do the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I think it’s always something different when you go somewhere representing your country,” Kronwall said. “Here it’s of course very special to represent the Red Wings and be a part of this family but when you go out to the world and represent your country obviously a huge honor.”

All but one player on Sweden’s 25-man roster is a current NHL player, and that guy happens to have ties to the Red Wings’ organization. Jimmie Ericsson is the older brother of Wings’ defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. The 33-year-old forward has spent his entire career in the Swedish Elite League with Skellefteå, where he has been the team captain for the last three seasons. This will also be his first Olympic Games, though he has helped Sweden win bronze, silver and gold in three of the last four World Championships. The Ericssons were teammates on the 2010 squad that took home a bronze medal.

The Wings’ Ericsson actually thinks his brother is the better hockey player.

“My older brother is more talented than me, but he doesn’t like working out or being that determined to reach that far,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “He’s a great hockey player, but he doesn’t have that mentality off the ice that maybe I have and that’s kept me going.”

The Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues have the most NHL players headed to this year’s Olympics, followed Montreal with eight and Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Vancouver and the New York Rangers with seven each.

Besides the six Swedes, goalie Jimmy Howard will represent the United States, center Pavel Datsyuk Russia, and forwards Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco will play for Slovakia.

Howard, who played for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, is making his first Olympic experience for what U.S. general manager Dave Poile said is Howard’s past work.

“From a personal standpoint being in the same division as the Wings for years I know what Jimmy can do,” said Poile, who is also the GM of the Nashville Predators. “I know he would say the same thing, I think this has not been his best year but his body of work has been fabulous. I mean, 35 wins in three consecutive seasons and the playoff record the Wings have with him in goal. The big games that he has won for the Wings, especially on the road and behind in series, or what have you, I mean, I know what Jimmy Howard can do but I think the rest of our committee knows what he can do and he got a spot on the Olympic team based on his body of work.”

Red Wings GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock were in Toronto on Tuesday for the unveiling of Team Canada’s 25-man roster, which they helped assemble. This will be the tandems' first defense of Canada's gold-medal win four years ago.

Four of the Wings’ Olympians – Ericsson (fractured ribs), Franzen (concussion), Datsyuk (lower-body) and Gustavsson (groin) – have been nursing injuries, but are on the mend and hope to rejoin Detroit’s lineup soon, Holland said.

The Olympic hockey schedule begins Feb. 12 when Sweden opens the 12-team tournament against the Czech Republic. Other openers involving the Red Wings are Feb. 13 when Russia plays Slovenia, the U.S. plays Slovakia, and Canada plays Norway.

The gold medal game is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80