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Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias included on Czech Republic's hockey squad for Vancouver Games

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Former NHL superstar Jaromir Jagr was included in the Czech Republic's Olympic squad for the Vancouver Games on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old right winger who was the NHL's MVP in 1999 with the Pittsburgh Penguins was selected in the 23-man preliminary squad announced by coach Vladimir Ruzicka. The roster will be finalized Jan 21.

Other current Czech NHL stars - forwards Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils and Tomas Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle were also included.

A total of 16 players are from the NHL, while five play in Russia and two in the Czech league.

Jagr helped the Czech Republic win gold at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Japan, and is the only player from that team on the roster for Vancouver.

Jagr began his NHL career in 1990 and played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and the Rangers. In 1,273 NHL games, he had 1,599 points from 646 goals and 953 assists and won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins.

He left the NHL in 2008 to join Avangard Omsk in the Russian KHL league but has not ruled out a return when his contract expires next year.

Ruzicka said he wanted Elias to captain the team, with Jagr and Kaberle to be his deputies.

"For our hockey, success mean a medal," Ruzicka said. "We travel (to Vancouver) to get a medal. Anything else is a failure."

The Czechs will face Russia, Latvia and Slovakia in the group stage of the Olympic tournament.

The most notable omissions on the squad are forwards Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche and Vaclav Prospal of the New York Rangers.

Ruzicka said "Hejduk's got a knee problem" and was worried that could limit him. The coach said he decided to select eight defencemen and 12 forwards because the team would otherwise be "too attack-minded" with 13 forwards.

"We had to name 23 players, not 40," said Ruzicka, who also left out former Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Hudler.

Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers will be the first-choice goalie, with Ondrej Pavelec of the Atlanta Thrashers his backup.


Czech Squad:

Goaltenders: Tomas Vokoun (Florida Panthers), Ondrej Pavelec (Atlanta Thrashers), Jakub Stepanek (Vitkovice).

Defencemen: Miroslav Blatak (Salavat Yulayev), Jan Hejda (Columbus Blue Jackets), Tomas Kaberle (Toronto Maple Leafs), Filip Kuba (Ottawa Senators), Pavel Kubina (Atlanta Thrashers), Zbynek Michalek (Poenix Coyotes), Roman Polak (St Louis Blues), Marek Zidlicky (Minnesota Wild).

Forwards: Petr Cajanek (SKA St. Petersburg), Roman Cerbenka (Slavia Prague), Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils), Martin Erat (Nashville Predators), Tomas Fleischmann (Washington Capitals), Martin Havlat (Minnesota Wild), Jaromir Jagr (Avangard Omsk), David Krejci (Boston Bruins), Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators), Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens), Tomas Rolinek (Metallurg), Josef Vasicek (Lokomotiv).


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