Dallas Stars Send 3, Coach to Olympic Winter Games in Sochi

Three members of the Dallas Stars and their coach are headed to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next month.

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will join Team Finland while forwards Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin will join teams Canada and Russia, respectively.

Dallas Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff will serve as an associate coach for Team Canada.

"The Dallas Stars are extremely proud of Jamie, Kari and Valeri for being selected to participate at the Olympic Games," said Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill. "It is a tremendous honor to represent one's country at the highest international stage and their experience at the Games will be invaluable for our own team as we approach the most competitive portion of our season."

The Olympic appearances are the first for all three members of the Stars' roster.  The Stars said Tuesday that Ruff, 53, was an associate coach for Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, winning gold. He was Canada's head coach at the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland, winning a silver medal, and at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. The native of Warburg, Alta., is in his first season as head coach of the Stars and has guided the team to a 20-15-7 record through 42 games.

In Olympic play, Lehtonen joins Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks as Finland's goaltenders in Sochi. Finland was the bronze medalist at the 2010 Olympics and silver medalist four years earlier during the 2006 games in Torino, Italy.

Benn will join NHL superstar Sidney Crosby, who scored the gold-medal winning goal in 2010 against the U.S., on Team Canada. Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Jonathan Toews will round out the offense. Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Shea Weber will be on defense. The goaltenders are: Roberto Luongo, Carey Price and Mike Smith.

Nichushkin will join Washington Capitals center Alex Ovechkin in leading Russia's hockey team at the games where, as the host country, Russia looks to avoid a repeat of its poor performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs were among 15 NHL players named Tuesday to Russia's 25-man roster.

Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov and Alexander Yeryomenko of the KHL's Dinamo Moscow will contend for the goaltender spot.

Edmonton defenseman Anton Belov, Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings and two Montreal Canadiens defensemen -- Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov -- are also on the list, which includes former NHL players Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Russia was knocked out in the quarterfinals in Vancouver in 2010.

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, air on the networks of NBC Universal between Feb. 7 and Feb. 23.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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