NHL vet Martin Erat to lead Czech Republic men’s Olympic hockey team


PRAGUE (AP) – Veteran forward Martin Erat will lead the Czech Republic’s hockey team as captain at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

From 2001-15, the 36-year-old Erat played 881 games in the NHL for Nashville, Washington, Phoenix and Arizona, scoring 176 goals and adding 369 assists. He currently plays for Brno in the top Czech league.

It will be the fourth Olympics for Erat, who helped the Czechs win bronze at the 2006 Turin Games.

“We’ll rely on him,” Czech Republic coach Josef Jandac said Monday after announcing his 25-man squad.

With the absence of NHL players, Jandac looked to the east, taking 15 players from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. Seven are from the domestic league while the remaining three play in Switzerland.

The team is a mixture of experienced and young players.

Forward Roman Cervenka, 32, is another veteran who played in the NHL – one season in Calgary. He has scored the most goals for the national team in his 138 international games.

Dominik Kubalik, a 22-year-old forward who plays for Swiss club HC Ambrì-Piotta, is among the rising stars.

The Czechs will play in a group with Olympic host South Korea, defending champion Canada and Switzerland.

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