Ovechkin, Backstrom to represent countries in Olympics
Marty Erat, a two-time Olympian, wanted one last chance to play for the Czech Olympic team.
Marcus Johansson wanted his first crack at the Swedish Olympic team.
Both Capitals forwards said Wednesday they were disappointed in being left off their countries’ hockey teams, but in different ways.
Erat, 32, said Czech Olympic coach Alois Hadamczik told him during the summer that he had a spot on the Czech roster, which includes former NHL forward Petr Nedved.
“I was on the team,” Erat said. “It’s hard to play 7 minutes and play at the level you think you are. It’s sad for me because it’s hard to forget about this stuff, especially when you’ve got a spot and then it’s taken away.”
Erat, who represented his country in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games, is actually averaging 13:47 for the Caps this season. In 39 games he has no goals and 15 assists and is a minus-4. On Thursday in Tampa [7:30 p.m., CSN] Erat is expected to be back on the fourth line when the Caps face the Lightning.
RELATED: [Ovechkin, Backstrom named to Olympic teams]
Johansson, 23, is expected to center a third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward after spending most of this season on a top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Johansson as hoping his 28-point first half [6 goals, 22 assists] would be enough to get him on Sweden’s Olympic team and said he was “absolutely” disappointed to be left off the 25-man roster..
“It would have been a lot of fun and something to look forward to,” Johansson said, “but I’m going to wish them all the best and be cheering for them anyway. It’s such a good team and so many good players.
“Obviously, it’s something you would want to be a part of but there’s not much you can do about that now.”
Johansson said he would use his Olympic snubbing as motivation for the rest of this season. He’s on pace for 12 goals, 43 assists and a career-high 55 points.
“You can use every little positive and negative to become a better player and this is one of them, for sure,” Johansson said.
“I feel like it’s been up and down this year. There are things that can be better and things that have been pretty good. I think it’s a part of becoming a better hockey player. It’s been an all right, but I feel like I can be better and our team can be better.”
With a long career ahead of him Johansson will get other chances to make the Swedish Olympic team. Erat, who has asked repeatedly to be traded, fears he will not.
“I don’t know how it’s going to be in four years,” he said. “That’s why the Olympics are so big now. You don’t know if the NHL will let players go again. You never know. That’s why it’s very sad for me to see myself out of the team.”