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Bolts’ St. Louis awaits Olympic team fate

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Published:   |   Updated: January 7, 2014 at 02:45 AM

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — At some point, around the time the Tampa Bay Lightning head to the MTS Centre ahead of today’s morning skate, most of Canada will be glued to a television set as Team Canada, led by Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, reveals its Olympic roster.

Seconds later, that roster will be dissected, discussed and debated by millions of armchair general managers.

One way or the other, Tampa Bay captain Marty St. Louis figures to be a prominent part of those conversations.

Some teams have already announced their rosters, including the Czech Republic, which named Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas and forward Ondrej Palat to their squad. But no roster will be scrutinized as much as Canada’s for who’s in and who’s out.

After being a part of the 2006 team that finished outside of medal contention in Torino, Italy, St. Louis was left off the 2010 team that won gold on Canadian soil in Vancouver, an omission St. Louis has called one of the biggest disappointments of his career.

But the fact that at age 38 St. Louis is still in the mix to be included on the roster for the deepest hockey nation in the world is a testament to the level of play the former league MVP continues to show with 17 goals and 38 points in 42 games this season.

The possibility of another Olympic chance has been on his mind as the roster announcement gets closer.

“You want to give yourself the best chance and I feel that I’ve done that,’’ St. Louis said. “But we’ll see where the chips fall. The last little while everybody is making a push. A lot of good players playing really good hockey. You feel you’re constantly being watched, judged on how you play. It’s hard to not think about it.”

For Steven Stamkos, who will have his name called as part of the roster even as he recovers from a broken leg suffered Nov. 11, St. Louis is a lock to be on the Canadian roster.

“I think Marty deserves a spot on that team regardless of any player whether they are injured or not,’’ Stamkos said.

Gudas and Palat, meanwhile, received a resounding ovation of stick taps from their Lightning teammates as the team stretched at the end of practice at MTS Centre on Monday afternoon as the pair of 23-year-old NHL rookies will represent the Czech Republic alongside the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Elias and David Krejci.

“It’s just a testament to what they have accomplished in their short pro careers,’’ Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “The reason we’ve had some winning teams (in the organization) is because of guys like Gudas and Palat. They are part of the reason we have won and they are being rewarded for it. So the powers to be for the Czech team will be really happy with what they see.’’

Both Gudas and Palat were a part of the Czech Republic summer orientation camp.

“Two years ago I would have never thought this would be possible,’’ Gudas said.

eerlendsson@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7835

Twitter: @erlendssonTBO

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