Depending on how you look at it, Michal Handzus will get either his second or third chance at the Olympics in a few weeks. Handzus represented Slovakia in 2002 (EDIT: and won a gold medal with Slovakia in the 2002 World Championships) and was selected again in 2006, but in the second-to-last NHL game before the Olympic break that year, Handzus separated his shoulder and did not play in Turin, Italy.
Handzus on Tuesday was again selected to represent Slovakia in the two-week tournament in February and Vancouver, and this afternoon to him about his selection…
Question: How does it feel to be selected to your third Olympic team?
HANDZUS: “It’s great. Obviously it’s going to be the best players there, so it’s going to be exciting. Playing for your country is always exciting, and I will get to play with a lot of friends that I have played with over the years, so it’s going to be nice for sure.”
Question: Have you had a chance to look at your roster closely? What do you think?
HANDZUS: “We’re in this generation and we have played a lot together. We won gold in 2002, and this is probably going to be one of the last international tournaments for a lot of guys in our group. We’re getting older, so it’s going to be exciting. This group of guys, we know each other and we have some really, really good players, game-breakers, so it’s up to us about how we get together. Obviously we want to make something happen there.”
Question: There’s a lot of debate about whether NHL players should be in the Olympics, but players seem very much in favor of it. Why is it such a special thing?
HANDZUS: “It’s the Olympics. It’s the best tournament in the world for international play, and playing for your country is always exciting. You know that a lot of people back home, your family, they’re watching you and the whole country is excited to watch it. It brings excitement to the locker room. It’s a short tournament. It’s only 14 days, so I don’t think it should matter a lot to the NHL. Obviously it’s in Canada, so it’s going to have great coverage. I think it’s going to help the game, for sure, and it’s going to showcase a lot of great players. I think it’s going to be great and it’s going to be exciting.”