Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Finland and Czech Republic World Cup Nominations Released

In what became a throwaway news item in light of the hoopla surrounding the Stanley Cup Finals, Finland and the Czech Republic announced their World Cup roster nominations yesterday. It kind of makes you wonder why the NHL chose a May 25th date to have these nominations announced, rather than wait until after the Cup Finals�

Finland�s Team (link here), like anything Finnish, is pretty boring.

But I am shocked...SHOCKED!!! that Jyrki Lumme was not selected! ;)

Czechia�s Team, on the other hand, is more interesting, especially due to the list of players that weren�t selected.

Here is a look at Hlinka�s initial nominations:

Goalies: Roman Cechm�nek (Los Angeles, NHL), Martin Prusek (Ottawa, NHL), Tom� Vokoun (Nashville, NHL).

Defensemen: Roman Hamrl�k (NY Islanders, NHL), Franti�ek Kaberle (Atlanta), Tom� Kaberle (Toronto), Pavel Kubina (Tampa), Marek Mal�k (Vancouver), Jir� �l�gr (Boston, NHL), Jaroslav �pacek (Columbus), Marek Zidlick� (Nashville).

Forwards: Petr Caj�nek (St. Louis), Jir� Dopita (Pardubice), Radek Dvor�k (Edmonton), Patrik Eli� (New Jersey), Martin Havl�t (Ottawa), Milan Hejduk (Colorado), Jarom�r J�gr (NY Rangers), Robert Lang (Detroit), V�clav Prospal (Anaheim), Robert Reichel (Toronto), Martin Rucinsk� (Vancouver), Martin Straka (Los Angeles), Josef Vas�cek (Carolina), Tom� Vlas�k (Kazan, Rusko), David V�born� (Columbus).

First of all, it looks like provided some �false� information. Although Reichel and Hamrlik were declared they were not interested in playing in the tournament (to spend time with their families), they were named to the squad anyway. Hlinka also named Cechmanek, Lang, and Straka to the roster. had confirmed these players were �not available�, but it is great news for the Czechs for them to be on the team. The center position no longer looks like a great weakness.

** Stay tuned, however, as 1 or more of those 5 guys may withdraw from the team later on. The Czechs may have named them onto the roster in the event that they can be replaced later on due to certain �circumstances�. If those 5 players weren�t named to the initial roster, they would not be able to be added later unless one of the other players was injured.

Some other thoughts :

1. No Petr Sykora � Given his great chemistry with Patrik Elias in the past, and his offensive ability, I would have figured Sykora was shoe-in to make this team. The Czechs certainly have enough talented wingers, so his exclusion isn�t going to hurt them severely. Sykora could play center in a pinch, but Hlinka is not going to play him there.

2. No Petr Nedved � Now a Canadian citizen, Nedved would be allowed to play for Czechia in this tournament since this is an NHL/PA deal, and not an IIHF one. I guess the Czechs didn�t want him back, anyway, which is no big loss.

3. No Radek Bonk � I�m not sure what Hlinka has against Bonk, but �Smiley� has never really liked the guy for his own special reasons. Bonk had his worst NHL campaign since 98-99, was a total negative-impact player in the playoffs, and does not have a great history with the national team. So, I can see why Hlinka left him off of the initial roster, although I�m still a bit surprised by the exclusion.

4. The Lack of Role Players? I�ve heard some people question the Czech roster for lacking in �role players� like Canada and the USA have taken (Draper, etc�). Would the Czechs be better off with a grinder type like Vaclav Varad�a?

Well, the Czechs have always had success by slotting their speedy and less offensive players into defensive roles; much like Canada did in Salt Lake City. Radek Dvorak, Josef Vasicek, and Petr Cajanek, for example, will take on defensive roles and have done so successfully for the Czechs in the past. That said, it wouldn�t have hurt them to take at least one other forward who could play a gritty game.

5. Tomas Vlasak � The real surprise of the roster is Vlasak, who had a much abbreviated NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings (4 points in 10 games in 2000-01) before running back overseas to the Finnish league.

While Hlinka was coaching in the Russian League, he had many opportunities to view Vlasak, and perhaps was impressed by his play then. I am not sure what kind of role Vlasak will play, since he is not known for being a �role player� type, and the Czechs already have superior offensive forwards. I could think of a few other European-based players that I would have selected ahead of him. Hlinka is a hard man to figure out, sometimes, and this selection just adds to the mystery.

In other news, the Russians have been given until May 31st to submit their rosters.
Really, it will take more than 6 extra days to sort out the mess within their own federation.

Finally, The Hockey News has released its Entry Draft Preview Edition, and I can�t wait to pick up my copy. It�s one of my must-buy purchases every year, and a good little resource guide for fantasy league drafts, especially for the pittance that it costs.

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