Blues tied for NHL lead with 10 players headed to the Winter Olympics

News-DemocratJanuary 7, 2014 

Tied with rivals Chicago and Detroit for the NHL teams sending the most players to the Winter Olympics with 10, the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday added a few more names to the list.

Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester were named to the Team Canada roster while forwards Alexander Steen and Patrik Berglund were selected to play for Sweden.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak will be making his second Olympic appearance for Slovakia and first-time Olympian winger Vladimir Tarasenko will play for his native Russia.

This will be the second Olympic appearance for the 30-year-old Bouwmeester, who also played for Canada in 2006. He ranks 11th among all NHL defensemen in scoring with three goals and 27 points, along with the league's third-highest plus-minus total (plus-21).

Pietrangelo will be making his Olympic debut after playing for Canada previously at the world junior championships and 2011 world championships.

"Such a great honor to represent my country. Dream come true for any Canadian kid growing up" was Pietrangelo's reaction on his Twitter account.

He ranks eighth among NHL defensemen with five goals and 28 points. Though only 23, the former first-round pick is in his sixth NHL season.

Also headed to the Olympics with Team Canada are Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong. Hitchcock is an assistant coach for Canada and Armstrong is the part of Canada's management group.

This will be the first Swedish Olympic appearance for both Steen and Berglund. Steen, currently out with a concussion, is the Blues' top scorer with 24 goals and 38 points.

The 25-year-old Berglund has six goals and 17 points in 38 games.

Halak, 28, who recently battled through flu-like symptoms, is 17-6-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

The 22-year-old Tarasenko played previously for Russia at the 2009 and 2019 world junior championships and also was the captain of Russia's 2011 entry at the world championships.

He has 13 goals and 24 points in 41 games with the Blues this season. He is following in the Olympic hockey footsteps of his famous father, Andrei Tarasenko, who played on the Russian team in the 1994 Olympics in Norway.

Previously named to Team USA were Blues forwards David Backes and T.J. Oshie and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, while forward Vladimir Tarasenko was named to the Czech Republic team.

Many expected Blues defenseman Roman Polak to make his second straight Olympic appearance for the Czech Republic, but in a puzzling move his name was not included on the roster.

A pair of former Blues prospects are also headed to the Olympics led by Calgary Flames goaltender Reto Berra (Switzerland). Former Blues prospect Jori Lehtera, a third-round draft pick of the Blues in 2008 currently playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, was named to Finland's Olympic team.

Also playing in the Olympics are former Blues forwards Michal Handzus (Slovakia) and Petr Nedved (Czech Republic).

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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