Four years ago, in 2010, there were seven of them. Goaltender Roberto Luongo won gold with Team Canada, center Ryan Kesler played for the United States and won the silver, the Sedin twins represented Sweden, defenceman Christian Ehrhoff (now with the Buffalo Sabres) played for Germany, defenceman Sami Salo (now with the Tampa Bay Lightning) played for Finland and won the bronze and center Pavol Demitra, who passed away in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash in Russia in 2011, represented Slovakia. The Vancouver Canucks were well represented in the 2010 Winter Olympics and will be sending eight players to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this February.
Roberto Luongo (G)
In the 2010 Winter Olympics, Luongo played five games, winning each. He played in the opening game, in which Canada won 8-0, and then later in a qualification game against Germany (8-2 win), the quarterfinal against Russia (7-3 win), the semifinal against Slovakia (3-2 win) and the gold medal game against the United States (3-2 overtime win). The 2010 Olympics were a definite and major highlight of Luongo’s career, and now he will get the chance to represent Canada for a third time on the Olympics stage. He has also played in four World Championships and two World Junior Championships. So far this season Luongo has posted his best save percentage and goals against average since 2010-11, the season of the Canucks’ Stanley Cup run. However, Luongo is currently enduring a series of injuries. Injured on Dec. 22 in a game against the Winnipeg Jets, Luongo returned to NHL action on Jan. 4 against the Los Angeles Kings. In that game, Luongo was run into by Dustin Brown and injured his ankle; however, the injury is reportedly not serious.
Dan Hamhuis (D)
Although Hamhuis has never played for Canada in the Olympics, he has represented his country in five World Championships and two World Junior Championships. He has a gold and two silver medals from the World Championships and a silver and a bronze from the World Juniors. While Hamhuis has not necessarily generated a lot of points this season, he leads the Canucks in plus/minus with plus-10, and has been logging minutes in the 30-minute range. As Hamhuis put it himself, his “game isn’t a game that makes a whole lot of noise in the headlines or the fans,” but he has demonstrated his ability to play a solid and dependable shutdown role, especially in the absence of Alex Edler.
Daniel (LW) and Henrik (C) Sedin
For a long time, the Sedins have been a mainstay on Sweden’s national team. Twice in their career, the twins played in both the World Juniors and the World Championships in the same season (1998-1999 and 1999-2000). Since then they have competed in three other World Championships and two Olympics. They both have an Olympic gold, and a gold and two bronze medals from the World Championships. Although they only played in four games, the Sedins played a large part in Sweden’s 2013 World Championship gold. Between the two, they had 15 points in those four games. Henrik scored twice in the gold medal game, including the goal that gave Sweden their first lead of the game and the final goal of the game, which ended in a 5-1 win over Switzerland. Henrik was also named as one of the media All Stars of the tournament. In the 2014 Olympics, Henrik will wear an ‘A.’ Currently, the Sedins lead the Canucks in points; through 45 games, Henrik has 39 and Daniel has 38.
Alex Edler (D)
Edler was on the gold medal winning Swedish team in the 2013 World Championships as well, but his chance to represent his country was short lived when he was handed a suspension in his second game of the tournament, the quarterfinal against Canada. The suspension was for a knee-on-knee hit on Canada’s Eric Staal. Edler missed the semifinal and the gold medal final, and the suspension will carry over into the first two games of the 2014 Olympics. To add to the suspension, Edler is still recovering from a lower-body injury, and has not played a game since Dec. 3. Over the past few seasons, Edler has become more of an offensive defenceman and has played a large role on the Canucks’ blue line and on the top power play unit. Edler also played in the World Championships in 2008 and the World Juniors in 2005-2006.
Yannick Weber (D)
Weber is one of eight NHL players to represent Switzerland this year. Weber has had experience playing internationally before, in the 2010 Olympics, the 2009 World Championships and the 2007 World Juniors. He has not had any points in international play since the 2007 World Juniors, in which he had six points in six games. Weber has spent most of his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens. This is his first season with the Canucks, and he has played 22 games. In some of those games he played on the fourth line rather than defence. Since Edler’s injury, Weber has been playing around 10 to 16 minutes rather than the two to 10 he was playing at the start of the season.
Ryan Kesler (C)
In 2010, Kesler narrowly lost the gold medal in the arena the Canucks call home when Canada beat the United States in overtime. He scored the United States’ first goal of the game, which sparked the Americans to tie up the Canadians’ two-goal lead and to send the game to overtime. Prior to 2010, Kesler played in two World Juniors and the 2006 World Championships. Since the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Kesler has struggled through a series of injuries but is still managing to produce for the Canucks. He currently leads the team in goals with 17 through 45 games.
Ronalds Kenins (LW)
It can be difficult to find information on Kenins, a Latvian Canucks prospect signed last July. The 22-year-old forward currently plays with Switzerland’s ZSC Lions. Kenins has previously represented Latvia in the 2010 World Juniors and the last three World Championships. This will be his first Olympics.