Another surprise entry into the 2014 Sochi Olympics is Team Latvia who qualified at the beginning of this year.
The majority of the team is made up of players from Dinamo Riga of the KHL. Lone NHLer Arturs Kulda of the Winnipeg Jets could easily make an impact on the blue line with being paired up with Georgijs Pujacs or Kristaps Sotnieks from Riga.
From the forwards perspective, Latvia has sharpshooter Zemgus Girgensons who spent last season in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans. He was drafted 14th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2012 and hasn’t looked back at his homeland since.
Jānis Sprukts is another powerful forward who spent some of his junior years with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He’s also had stints with Rochester Americans, Florida Panthers, Dinamo Riga and is currently playing for CSKA Moscow in the KHL.
Team Latvia is actually head manned by Canadian Ted Nolan for the past two years. Nolan has had a bit of a controversial NHL career but a success coaching one. The Latvians must have seen something in Nolan as he’s been their bench boss since 2011.
Of course we can’t go without mentioning one of my favourite hockey Latvians, Arthurs Irbe. Although he’s retired, I’m sure he will be apart of the Olympic program in some way, shape or form. Goalie coach? We can only hope.