February 17, 2006

Hockey’s injured Hasek and Elias to leave

By Alan Crosby

TURIN (Reuters) - Top Czech goalie Dominik Hasek will leave
the Olympics due to a leg injury, team officials said on
Friday, dealing a severe blow to his team's chances of
dethroning champions Canada.

Zbynek Kusy, general manager of the Czech ice hockey team,
added that forward Patrik Elias was also leaving the Games
after suffering a rib injury from a crosscheck during the
Czech's opening game against Germany.

He added that Dusan Salficky would replace Hasek, while
Ales Kotalik would be called up for Elias.

"For me, this is a big disappointment," Hasek was quoted by
the online website of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes as saying.

Hasek, a two-times NHL MVP, was the star of the Czech team
that upset Canada and Russia on the way to Olympic gold in
1998, and was expected to reprise his role in Turin.

But the 41-year-old's Olympic dream was shattered less than
10 minutes into the Games, when he fell awkwardly while making
a save and immediately came off the ice with a strained
adductor muscle in his left leg.

"I consulted with the doctors but unfortunately, it isn't
good, I can't play for the rest of the tournament," Hasek said.

The news hits hard a Czech team that has struggled so far
even though they are considered one of the top two teams in the

The Czechs trailed Germany 1-0 after the first period on
Wednesday before pulling away late in the game to win 4-1.

Bad went to worse as they underestimated a plucky Swiss
team on Thursday, losing 3-2 in a game where goalie Tomas
Vokoun, Hasek's replacement, admitted he played poorly.

The injury to Elias comes just as he was getting his
skating legs back.

The New Jersey Devils forward was not named in the original
Czech team after he contracted Hepatitis A last year while
playing in Russia during the NHL labor dispute.

He missed the first 39 games of the NHL season this year as
he recovered, and was later added to the Czech squad after New
York Rangers forward Petr Prucha went down with a knee injury
days before the Games started.