Posted: Wednesday February 15, 2006 12:31PM; Updated: Wednesday February 15, 2006 2:28PM
In addition to the above athletes, the roster of absentees from the men's hockey tournament could form a pretty good team on its own:
U.S. G.M. Don Waddell elected not to include veteran Bruins defenseman Brian Leetch, the captain of the team during the truly amateur days of 1988. That omission is defensible given how much Leetch has slowed over the years, but because Waddell and head coach Peter Laviolette named their team in mid-December, they didn't have enough time to know that Ryan Miller would emerge as the best U.S. goalie. Miller is sixth in the NHL in save percentage (.923) and seventh in goals-against average (2.25) but was left off the roster in favor of the Islanders' Rick DiPietro (40th and 35th), Tampa Bay's John Grahame (16th and 23rd) and Philadelphia's Robert Esche (35th and 34th). Defenseman Aaron Miller of the Los Angeles Kings is also out with a back injury, but his replacement, Carolina's Bret Hedican, has some Olympic ties: He's married to figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, who won the ladies' figure skating title in 1992.
Canada is missing a pair of defensemen who have pulled out with injuries since G.M. Wayne Gretzky named them to the team: Vancouver's Ed Jovanovski is out with a groin injury, and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
Several Russian players declined to make themselves available to the tournament's most dysfunctional team: Forwards Sergei Federov of Columbus and defenseman Sergei Zubov of Dallas both said nyet to playing for the motherland. Bruins forward Alexei Zhamnov has been out with a broken ankle while goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is out with a sprained knee.
Other top international forwards who are missing include Sweden's Markus Naslund, who has a lingering groin injury; Slovakia's LadislavNagy, who recently underwent knee surgery; Petr Prucha of the Czech Republic, who is suffering from a severe knee sprain; and Germany's Jochen Hecht (knee sprain) and Marco Strum (shoulder strain).
Finland's top two goalies, MiikkaKiprusoff of Calgary and Kari Lehtonen of Atlanta, both withdrew because of injuries.