Blake Wheeler is a first-time Olympian.
Jan. 31, 2014
Four former Gophers will be headed to Sochi next month as part of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. USA Hockey announced the squad on Wednesday as part of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic festivities in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Former Gophers Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Paul Martin were named to the U.S. roster while current Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards will serve as an assistant coach with the U.S. team.
"We went through a very thorough process to get to today and could not be happier with the team we've selected," said David Poile, general manager of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team and also the GM and president of hockey operations for the NHL's Nashville Predators. "We're fortunate to have probably the deepest talent pool we've ever had in our country and that made for some very difficult decisions. In the end, however, we're confident we've selected a group of players that puts us in the best position to have success in Sochi."
The Gophers have had at least one representative in the last 18 Winter Olympic Games, dating back to 1936. While all three Gophers have skated for USA Hockey in the past only Kessel hasskated for the U.S. Olympic team previously, earning a silver medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. Richards, meanwhile, competed as a defenseman for the U.S. at the 1994 Games in Lillehammer.
"We appreciate the work done by David (Poile) and all those involved in putting this roster together," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "We look forward to what will be a great Olympics in Sochi, where hockey will be at the center of attention."
The men's ice hockey competition at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi runs from Feb. 13-23. For more information on the games as well as the U.S. squad, visit USAHockey.com.