Team Slovakia recently unveiled their 2018 Olympic hockey team.
For North American fans it is a truly foreign roster, full of players most of us have never heard of. One notable exception is that of Ladislav Nagy. Remember him? The long time NHLer, best remembered with the then-Phoenix Coyotes, has remained playing throughout Europe since 2008. There is also Tomas Surovy, who played 126 games with Pittsburgh early in the century.
But the most notable name is that of the coach. Craig Ramsay.
Yes, that Craig Ramsay. The former Buffalo Sabres star shutdown winger turned excellent NHL assistant coach with three brief tenures as head coach is coaching Slovakia's national team now.
Ramsay signed a two year contract with Slovakia last August. The contract will carry through the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 2018 World Championship in Denmark, and the 2019 World Championship to be played on home ice in Bratislava and Kosice.
Interestingly, Slovakia's Olympic team been heavily scrutinized at home for some controversial omissions, notably KHL talent goalie Julius Hudacek, Andrej Meszaros and Marek Viedensky. Youngsters like Milos Bubela, Michal Kristof, Patrik Lamper, Matej Paulovic and Matus Sukel did make the team.
It would seem that Slovakia is implementing a more North American game plan to match their coach's strengths.
But it also looks like Slovakia's ultimate goals are not winning the Olympics but showing well at the '19 Worlds at home.