TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper and defenseman Victor Hedman will have some company in Beijing. Left wing Ondrej Palat will represent the Czech Republic in the 2022 Olympics, the team announced Thursday.
Palat, 30, will be joined on the team by forwards David Pastrnak of the Bruins and Jakub Voracek of the Blue Jackets, according to the announcement.
It will mark the second Winter Games for Palat. He played four games in the 2014 Olympics before the Czech Republic was eliminated by the United States but did not register any points. In 2014, Palat called it “a dream” to represent his home country on such a big stage.
Palat had 15 goals and 31 assists for the Lightning last season, his 46 points his most since 2016-17 (52 points). He added five goals and eight assists during the playoffs to help Tampa Bay to a second straight Stanley Cup championship.
The NHL and International Olympic Committee in early September announced their agreement for a three-week break in the NHL season in February. Players selected for this year’s All-Star weekend in Las Vegas will fly straight to Beijing when the event concludes on Feb. 5.
Other Lightning players expected to compete in China include: Brayden Point (Canada); Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Mikhail Sergachev (Russian Olympic Committee); Jan Rutta (Czech Republic); Erik Cernak (Slovakia); and Ryan McDonagh (United States). Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is hoping to crack a stacked Team Canada roster.
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