ZURICH/BRATISLAVA – While Slovakia will be battling hard for an Olympic bye at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, Zdeno Chara comes to his country’s aid right in time.
His status has been unclear due to a facial injury, but the giant of 2.06 metres desperately wants to help his country, which is ranked tenth in the Pre-Championship Ranking, one place too low to receive a bye for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Making the quarter-finals in Helsinki could help the team to reach a top-nine placement in the 2012 IIHF World Ranking and thus be set for the Sochi Olympics.
On Saturday night following the ŠKODA CUP in Bratislava, a pre-World Championship tournament, head coach Vladimir Vujtek confirmed his final roster for the Worlds and Chara’s coming.
The defenceman has been nominated to four straight NHL All-Star Games and he captained the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup last year, but this time they were eliminated in the first round.
Chara told Slovak news agency SITA that it needed his full power of persuasion to convince his NHL club to let him go despite the slight injury. But the 35-year-old defenceman insisted on helping his country in the difficult situation.
“It was an easy decision for me. In my heart I feel I made the right decision,” Chara said. “I’m fully committed to play hard for Slovakia.”
This will be Chara’s seventh IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, but the first since 2007 in Russia.
Vujtek announced his final 25-man roster after his team had edged Germany 5-4 in a shootout. It also includes two other NHLers, Buffalo Sabres defenceman Andrej Sekera and Florida Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky. Seven players were released from the camp.
Also Germany revealed its 25-man roster following the game while other teams announced additional players on Saturday.
Minnesota Wild goalkeeper Matt Hackett and Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows were added to the Canadian roster, San Jose Sharks defenceman Justin Braun will join Team USA and the Ottawa Senators’ Milan Michalek the Czech national team.
Click here for the current rosters of all teams.