OLYMPIC CONNECTIONS

Monday, 07.22.2013 / 3:11 PM
Chris Ryndak  - Sabres.com
Ville Leino

The NHL and the NHLPA reached an agreement last week with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee that would allow NHL players to participate in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Over the next few days, organizers from each national team will be announcing their orientation camp rosters. Team Canada and Team Russia and Team USA gave us theirs on Monday. 

Ryan Miller has been invited to attend Team USA's camp at the end of August.

It was announced last month that Ville Leino had been invited to Team Finland’s camp (you might need Google Translate for that link). Same with Jhonas Enroth and Henrik Tallinder for Team Sweden.

A few other members of the Buffalo Sabres organization have represented their countries in international play since reaching the NHL. Here are some connections between current Sabres and the national teams that qualified for the 2014 Olympic Games.

GROUP A

Ryan Miller

TEAM USA
Miller received Most Valuable Player honors at the 2010 Winter Olympics and Team USA won the silver medal thanks to his strong play. He’s also appeared in the IIHF World Championship in 2002 and 2003.

Coach Ron Rolston was very involved with USA Hockey’s National Development Program before joining the Sabres and Rochester Americans. He spent seven seasons as the program’s head coach where he led the U.S. Under-18 team to three gold medals and a silver medal in four stints at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship. Rolston also served as head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team in both 2007 and 2009.

New assistant coach Joe Sacco served as head coach for the 2013 World Championship team and guided them to a silver medal-performance. Sacco has also worked with Team USA as both a player and a coach. He played in the 1992 Olympic Games in France and coached Team USA at both the 2009 and 2010 World Championship.

Jamie McBain played for Sacco at the World Championship in Sweden this spring. He’s a product of the U.S. development program.

Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia are also in Group A.


GROUP B

Thomas Vanek

TEAM AUSTRIA
Thomas Vanek
has represented Austria in the past, and as the most prolific hockey player from the country, it’s likely he’ll be headed to Sochi. He played for Team Austria in May for the World Championship, where he scored six points in seven games (4+2). He was also a member of the team back in 2004.


TEAM CANADA
Tyler Myers
played six games for Team Canada during the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany. Sabres alternate captain Steve Ott was on that team as well.

No Sabres were invited to Team Canada’s orientation for the games in Sochi.


TEAM FINLAND
After retiring as a player in 2009, assistant coach Teppo Numminen spent time as a scout with the Finnish National Team. He participated in four Olympic Games as a player, winning two silver medals (1988 and 2006) and a bronze (1998).

Norway is also in Group B.


Jhonas Enroth

GROUP C

TEAM LATVIA
Zemgus Girgensons
played for Latvia at the 2013 World Championship in May, as well as the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championship. When Buffalo selected him in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 14), he became the highest drafted Latvian ever.

TEAM SWEDEN
Enroth backstopped his national team to the gold medal at the 2013 World Championship. He’s a candidate to back up Henrik Lundqvist in Sochi.

Tallinder played for Team Sweden in the Olympics in Vancouver.

The Czech Republic and Switzerland are also in Group C.

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