STOCKHOLM – Bengt-Ake Gustafsson’s roster for Vancouver 2010 includes 13 players who won gold in Turin four years ago. But the Swedish coach faces some major adversity. Four of his biggest stars are currently injured.
When Sweden, the defending Olympic champion, announced its 23-man provisional roster for Vancouver 2010 at a Sunday afternoon press conference in Stockholm, it was clear for most observers that this roster will most probably see some changes before the final 20+3 are registered on February 15.
Four of coach Gustafsson’s picks are currently out of action and are nursing different kind of injuries: forwards Peter Forsberg (MODO), Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa), and Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit), and defenceman Niklas Kronwall (Detroit).
The entire Kingdom of Sweden is praying that this quartet will make it, as all four have key roles in Gustafsson’s system and none of them can be adequately replaced.
Other can’t-miss selections on the Team Sweden roster were goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (NY Rangers), defensive anchor and 2006 gold-winning goal-scorer Nicklas Lidström (Detroit), and forwards Nicklas Bäckström (Washington), Tomas Holmström (Detroit) and Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Vancouver).
Some eyebrows were raised when it was realized that the roster didn’t include Detroit forwards Johan Franzén (also currently injured) and Mikael Samuelsson (Vancouver).
Fredrik Modin was probably the biggest surprise selection as the Columbus forward has been injured for most of the season and just recently returned to action. Some observers also included Loui Eriksson in the surprise category. Although the forward has been a regular scorer for the Dallas Stars, the 24-year-old has never really had an impact while wearing the Tre Kronor jersey.
Nineteen players are from the NHL and three from the Swedish Elitserien (Forsberg, defenceman Magnus Johansson, and third goaltender Stefan Liv), while forward Mattias Weinhandl will be the only Swedish Olympian from the Russian KHL.
Note: Provided they are healthy, Lidström, Alfredsson, Öhlund (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and Forsberg (1994, 1998, 2006, 2010) will appear in their fourth Olympics.
Click here to see the preliminary rosters.