Shea Weber named Alternate for Team Canada

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Team Canada announced the captains for their designated teams for the Winter Olympics this morning, with Shea Weber serving as an Alternate Captain for the Ice Hockey Team. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins will hold the title of Captain & Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks will hold the second Alternate title.

2014 Winter Olympics Team USA Roster

Ryan Suter – 2010 Winter Olympics – Getty Images

The official roster for Team USA was announced this afternoon following the 2014 Winter Classic, in which the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a SO 3 to 2. 105,491 was the official attendance in today’s Winter Classic, by the way… and the average temperature was 13°, with a wind chill of -1°

Any who – back to Team USA – So, who got the call to represent the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia? Here’s the list:

David Backes – St. Louis Blues
Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Callahan – New York Rangers
John Carlson – Washington Capitals
Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks
Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks
Paul Martin – Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan McDonagh – New York Rangers
Ryan Miller – Buffalo Sabres
James van Riemsdyk – Toronto Maple Leafs
Brooks Orpik – Pittsburgh Penguins
TJ Oshie – St. Louis Blues
Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens
Zach Parise – Minnesota Wild
Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings
Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues
Paul Stastny – Colorado Avalanche
Derek Stepan – New York Ranger
Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets
Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings
Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs

As you may have heard (especially if you’re a Predators fan), the Nashville Predators General Manager, David Poile, was named the Team USA GM over the summer. So, are you surprised no Predators made the roster? Seth Jones & Craig Smith were the only players that popped up on the radar and were expected to make the list, but as we now know, neither one apparently quite made the cut. Since Jones is still a young NHL-er, his roster-miss is not as surprising as Craig Smith’s, especially after his outstanding performance in the IIHF World Championships this past Spring.

Notable other players absent from the roster list include Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan, Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, Columbus’ Jack Johnson, and Islanders’ Kyle Okposo among many others that you could make a solid argument for.

So, there you have it. Will you put your differences aside and cheer for the likes of Ryan Kesler, Ryan Suter, and Patrick Kane to push Team USA to gold? We will… but just for this time.

Dusting off the 47 Sweater: Alexander Radulov returns to Nashville

Alexander Radulov during the 2006-07 season.

While non-hockey fans in Nashville are sobbing thanks to Peyton Manning’s decision to go to Denver, hockey fans in the Music City are celebrating the announcement that the 2004 NHL Draft 1st Round Pick will be returning to the Nashville Predators after almost four years. Radulov has spent the last 45 months playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, and it has been confirmed that his KHL club will allow him to return to Nashville and the National Hockey League.

Per Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile, Alex could be back in the Predators lineup by Thursday, when the Predators head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. That means Radulov could be on a plane as early as tomorrow. Tickets for Saturday’s game at home against the Winnipeg Jets skyrocketed when word of Radulov’s return was announced. Saturday’s game, if it isn’t already, is expected to be a sellout.

Alexander Radulov was, and will be for a very long time, the face of the Kontinental Hockey League. He’s accomplished a lot since bolting to his native Russia, including winning the KHL MVP award in 2010, becoming a KHL All-Star four times,  and winning a Gagarin Cup Championship in 2011.

It’s amazing how Alexander Radulov went from the most hated hockey player in Nashville’s history, to one who is embraced and welcomed back with open arms by the same fans who shunned him when he left. Of course, the Predators and its fan base have chanced dramatically in the four years that Radulov has been gone and players have come and gone. Jordin Tootoo, Kevin Klein, Martin Erat, David Legwand, Ryan Suter, and Shea Weber are the only players who have played alongside the Russian phenom, and luckily, all were friends of Alex whilst he was on the team, especially Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The younger and newer players are excited to usher Radulov onto the team as well.

It will be most interesting to see how Coach Barry Trotz will find a good placement in the lineup for Radulov once he does return. The chances of Trotz tearing apart the irrepressible SK-Fisher-Erat line is out of the question, but then again, the chemistry amongst the team and where Radulov will fit seamlessly will have to involve switching the norm up a bit. Perhaps that is what practice is good for.

With Radulov returning in time for the playoffs, the rest of the Western Conference is beginning to feel the heat as Nashville, who is currently sitting in the 4th spot, inches closer to the top. The Predators are currently tied at 92 points with Philadelphia for the #5 spot in league standings and Alexander Radulov could push the Predators higher. Without Radulov, the Predators have made a decent name for themselves, with players like Pekka Rinne, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Mike Fisher, the addition of a sniper shooter such as Radulov will only help the team in the standings.

Not all is gumdrops and rainbows as of yet for the Predators, though. Rumors that Radulov may have to return to the KHL after his short stint in Nashville when the season ends have been running amongst the media, but until more of that information is available, most believe it will come down to Alex deciding over the summer of whether he will re-sign with the Predators or, if anything, return to Russia and continue his rein as King of the KHL.

Until Alexander Radulov’s skates hit the ice at either the Bridgestone Arena or on the road with the Predators, we won’t promise Radulov’s return is for certain nor permanent. However, Alexander Radulov will give the Predators a boost of encouragement both on and off the ice with his return, extending the team ever so closer to the Stanley Cup.

Until then,

(Photo credit:  Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images Sport)

UPDATE 3/20/12:
Per Alexander Radulov’s Twitter account, he is currently on a plane headed back to Nashville.

Follow Alexander on Twitter: @Radul22



The Radulov Rundown: Why Predators Fans should Celebrate

Should Predators fans be excited about Radulov's possible return? We say, "YES."

We we going to try to avoid jumping on this “Radulov Watch” shenanigan, but after reading into many of the reports from the KHL and the NHL, it seems we should do a rundown of our own as well (just in case the big man himself decides to come back tomorrow).

So the big question is, why should Nashville Predators fans be excited about all of this Radulov talk? Most fans of today’s Predators never got to see #47 in action at the Bridgestone, so most don’t know what all the fuss is about. Sure, you can watch YouTube videos like this one:

… Or this one:

… Or heck, even this one:

From any of those videos above, you can tell Radulov’s an extraordinary player and why he’s considered the best hockey player in the world outside of the National Hockey League. So why, why, why (?) would he run to the Kontinental Hockey League instead of playing with fellow great players in the NHL?

In the beginning… 

Alexander Radulov was drafted in the 1st Round (15th Overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft at the tender age of 18 but did not hit ice with the Predators until the 2006-07 season. In that season alone, Radulov racked up 18 goals, 19 assists, and 37 points. His 2007-08 season was even better, totaling 26 goals, 32 assists, and 58 points. Gaining that much momentum at only 21, could you imagine if he returned now with the experience and maturity he has generated over in the KHL?

Running Back to Russia…

With such a prominent career in the NHL blooming, why would a young, 21-year-old aspiring athlete ditch what so many young hockey players strive to reach and return home? There are many theories behind Radulov’s motives:

  • Immaturity – Take a note from last year with Colin Wilson, Radulov had some immaturity problems, but what 21-year-old male finally on his own doesn’t? Isn’t that what college is? Unfortunately, college is nothing like a professional sports team in a foreign country and, if things aren’t going your way, why not run back to the safety net that is home?
  • Pride – On the same lines as immaturity, pride can sometimes make people do some silly things. When you know you’re great, why wouldn’t you want to go somewhere you’re the greatest player in the league and you have no rivals? In the NHL, although Radulov was outstanding in his own rights, he still had to compete against the likes of fellow 2004 1st Round draftee Alex Ovechkin and 2005 1st Rounder Sidney Crosby. Why not take a deal in the KHL to be your own star instead of possibly competing against the likes of those guys or others?
  • Lack of Confidence – Radulov has a tendency to overreact when scoring a goal. You definitely cannot mistake when he makes a goal, for his celebrations are a little on the eccentric side. Rumor has it that older guys like J.P. Dumont and Jason Arnott would give the young Russian a hard time about his exaggeration, thus finally sending the young gun packing.

Beside these three factors, there are probably a ton more circulating about, much more than we can cover in a blog post. However, with this cons come pros:

  • Maturity – Alexander Radulov is now 25 (going on 26 on July 5th) and, after a successful career thus far in the KHL, the young Russian is passing the hump of the twenties. Although most of the time maturity comes with age (most is the key word), Radulov has grown, both as a player and as a person, since leaving the NHL and if he intends to create a legacy in the NHL, now is the time to return.
  • Humility – Though we can’t think of any possible way Radulov has been humbled by his experience in the KHL (he did achieve the title of greatest player in that league), as stated before, pride and immaturity walk hand-in-hand and so does maturity and humility. Hopefully, with Radulov’s maturity, his need for competition has risen and he will set his pride aside to share the podium with fellow teammates.
  • Confidence – Wether it was true or not, Radulov will have no one to “hurt his feelings” due to the fact most of the team, minus David Legwand and Martin Erat, have moved on. In fact, Radulov, Suter, and Weber were all pretty close, so Radulov would be returning to old, familiar faces. That, and could Radulov possibly keep Suter and Weber in Nashville with his return? Let’s not float down that road just yet…

Okay, okay, okay… So you still aren’t impressed. How will he improve the already power lines such as the SK-MF-ME and the AK-SK-DL lines? Although he was embarrassingly terrible in defense, what he lacks in that department, Radulov goes above and beyond to make up in offensive gold. Both patient and skilled with the puck, Alexander Radulov can do just about everything with a puck a defense and goalies have nightmares about. So his defense was terrible while he was in Nashville, that was almost five years ago. Radulov has proven himself as a complete player in the KHL, growing offensively and defensively alike.

It’s truly hard to explain into words how powerful Alexander Radulov is and, with the NHL and the KHL stepping out of his way, Radulov can basically ‘Pass Go and collect $200’.  This, of course, has sent the other Western Conference coaches and General Managers into an uproar, but the NHL sees nothing wrong with Radulov hoping on a plane and hitting the ice in a Predators sweater tomorrow.

Maybe this post helped, maybe it confused you even more; which ever the case, Alexander Radulov would be like the prodigal son returning to his father, or so we are hoping. Not only would Radulov extend the Predators chances in the playoffs, he might help them reach the almighty Stanley Cup. That, or he’ll do absolutely nothing. By the way the other GMs and coaches are having a meltdown of his possible return, we are thinking Radulov will be a force to be reckoned with… Something the Predators have been needing for a long time.

So, until tomorrow, the fateful day that is the Ides of March (and what is also Peyton Manning Watch for Nashville), may Alexander Radulov bid Russia goodbye and hop a plane straight for Nashville, Tennessee.

Until then,

(Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe)