As the rosters for the various teams participating in next month’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia have been announced over the course of the last week, a lot of the emphasis and talk have been about the players who did not make their respective nation’s teams as opposed to those who did.
That hit close to home Tuesday morning for the Nashville Predators when the Swedish team was announced, and Predators right wing Patric Hornqvist was not listed as one of the Swede’s forwards.
Hornqvist was told that he would not be part of Sweden’s Olympic roster about a week ago.
“When you are one of the favorites from the start and you don’t make it, I think everybody is disappointed you didn’t make it, but it is up to them,” Hornqvist said following Tuesday’s morning skate in advance of that night’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
The 2014 Olympics will be played on international sized ice, which is 15 feet wider than NHL rinks. Not the fastest of skaters, Hornqvist’s omission could be attributed to the fact that Sweden’s brass may think speed will play a big part in these games. Hornqvist was a member of Sweden’s 2010 team at the Vancouver games, which were played on North American sized ice.
In Vancouver, Hornqvist had one goal in four games played. The Swedes did not medal.
Since the end of the NHL’s lockout, Hornqvist has struggled score goals however. After seasons of 30, 21, and 27 goals, he had just four in 24 games played during an injury-plagued 2012-13 season. Entering Tuesday’s game, Hornqvist had nine in 40 games played, but his 15 assists have him on pace for a career high in that category.
While not fleet of skate, Hornqvist has succeeded in the NHL due to his willingness to go to the front of opponents’ nets and take a beating in the process. His goals are not usually the most aesthetically pleasing, but they come as a result of playing a role many would not want to have.
Hornqvist plays a role that Predators head coach Barry Trotz loves.
When asked about Hornqvist’s snub, Trotz did not hold back his feelings.
“I have no idea what the Swedish team is thinking,” Trotz said. “I can tell you this; I don’t know their process, but Patric Hornqvist is the best net front guy in the National Hockey League. He brings a compete level that is undeniable. He does all those intangible things. If I was picking the team, he would definitely be on my team. I’m sure he’s disappointed. He is disappointed.”
Despite the disappointment of not being named to the team, Hornqvist still has high hopes for his homeland.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” he said. “I can’t really do anything about it right now, so I wish them good luck in the tournament. I hope they bring the gold back.”
With a month to go before the start of the Olympics and several Swedish forwards already battling injuries, there is still the possibility that a spot could open up for Hornqvist.