Team Canada, led by Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman, revealed the 25-man roster during a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday, which did include Steven Stamkos despite recovering from a broken leg suffered on Nov. 11.
Stamkos, assuming he’s recovered in time, will be one of seven Lightning players to participate in the Olympic games: Valtteri Filppula and Sami Salo will play for Finland; Richard Panik was named to Slovakia, minor league goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis will be part of the Latvian squad while Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat were named to the Czech Republic roster on Monday.
Defenseman Victor Hedman, however, was not named to Sweden’s roster.
But the biggest Lightning name not heading to Russia is St. Louis, who did not hide his disappointment when he was not selected to the 2010 team that won gold in Vancouver after being part of the 2006 team. In the days leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, St. Louis once again discussed what it would be like to have that chance to represent his country as he has continued to play at a point-per-game pace, leading Tampa Bay with 17 goals and 38 points and picking up his game even more since Stamkos was injured.
St. Louis did not make himself available to the media following Tampa Bay’s morning skate ahead of Tuesday’s game at Winnipeg, but a team representative said St. Louis would address his omission following the game.
Stamkos was with St. Louis when Yzerman called to deliver the news.
“I was a little emotional when he got the news,’’ Stamkos said. “It’s tough, I don’t know what more you can do or expect from him to be able to make this team. So for me it’s tough to see Marty as upset as he was. He may not admit it but he’s worked extremely hard to try and get an opportunity to put himself into the mix.
“Hopefully Marty can bounce back, we really need him on this team. He’s been carrying the load, he’s our leader and it’s tough to be with him during this time but he’s a warrior, he’s a competitor and he’s going to come out stronger I think.’’
For Yzerman, it was not an easy call to tell the Lightning captain he would not be a part of the Team Canada.
“Personally it was a very difficult decision, whether I was with Tampa Bay or not,’’ Yzerman said. “It was a tough decision in 2010 and it was a tough decision this year. Marty is playing very well, he’s a big reason our team is playing very well, he’s a high caliber player, he’s a high character person, and for me, personally it was a tough decision.’’
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper knows it’s a hard reality for St. Louis to endure.
“I’m sure he’s extremely disappointed as we all are but he’s a pro,’’ Cooper said. “Knowing Marty, this is probably going to motivate this snot out of him.’’
Hedman, a notable exclusion on the Swedish blue line, said he knew more than a week ago that he was not going to be named to the roster when he received an email notifying him of the decision.
“I don’t know if shocking is the right word but obviously I felt like I played the best hockey in my career so far so I was obviously hoping that would be enough to make that team, but I got the short stick I guess,’’ said Hedman, who has already surpassed his career best with eight goals. “I have great people surrounding me and giving me a lot of support – the coaching staff here, Steve (Yzerman), everyone has been supportive so it’s meant a lot to me.’’
While Cooper said he is thrilled for his players which were selected to represent their country, he expressed disappointment for the omissions of goaltender Ben Bishop (USA), St. Louis and Hedman.
“If you’re going to look at the three guys that are driving the bus at each position on our team it’s been Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman and Marty St. Louis and it’s a shame that the hockey world is not going to see any of those three guys play in February,’’ Cooper said. “I don’t know where our team would be without those three guys so I sit here and you are disappointed ... but I just know what these three guys have done for our team and the position that they have put us in. I can’t say enough, they have been dynamite and it’s just too bad the world is not going to get to see them.’’