The Czechs have been enigmatic since the late 1970s. Despite some nice pieces to the puzzle, it is hard to call the Czech Republic a true contender in 2010.
Goaltenders - The Czechs are not deep in goal. Ideally the underrated Tomas Vokoun will play every important game. Who will back up? Ondrej Pavelec? Marek Schwarz? Maybe Jiri Holecek or Vladimir Dzurilla are still around?
Defense - Again, the Czechs are not blessed with a lot of elite talent here either. Tomas Kaberle and Marek Zidlicky can provide some offense, while Pavel Kubina, Michal Rozsival and Jaroslav Spacek offer steady games. Then the talent pool drops off.
Games are not played on paper, but it is hard to get excited by this line up card.
Forwards - Jaromir Jagr may or may not play. There has been speculation that 2006 would be his last Olympic games, but he may view 2010 as a potential career ending swan song since his Russian adventure is not turning out like he had hoped.
The Czechs better hope they can convince Jagr to play. Veterans Patrik Elias, Milan Hejduk, and Martin Havlat can still put some points on the board, but they will need youngsters Ales Hemsky, Martin Erat and David Krejci to have big tournaments.
Expect solid citizens like Jiri Hudler, Milan Michalek, Thomas Plekanec and Jakub Voracek to round out this roster.
Summary - I really believe any of the big seven hockey nations can win a gold medal in 2010. The tournament set up really is a crap shoot, and the teams that come together the quickest will do the best. The Czechs will have to hope that they are one of those teams, because they can not be consider the pre-tournament favorite at this early stage.
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