Lubomir Visnovsky’s Absence From Slovakia Team Could Impact Zdeno Chara’s Ice Time

Chara flagThe New York Islanders are not allowing defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to join the Slovakia men’s hockey team in this year’s Winter Olympics.

Although Visnovsky is now back on the Coliseum ice, he missed 46 games this season due to a concussion. Islanders general manager Garth Snow commented on the hesitation to send Visnovsky to Sochi, saying, “We just don’t feel comfortable letting him go.” This was most likely the 37-year-old’s last opportunity to appear in the games and would have been his fifth Winter Olympics.

The decision to hold Visnovsky back from playing for the Slovakia team has left some demanding answers, including team Slovakia’s general manager Otto Sykora. Sykora reportedly said Friday that he plans to speak with Snow about Visnovsky’s ability to play in Sochi. Sykora is undoubtedly seeing a gap grow in his team’s depth as Columbus Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik will also miss this year’s Winter Olympics with a broken collarbone.

With the Slovakia bench down a defenseman, this could mean more ice time for the team’s captain, Zdeno Chara. One of the best defensemen in the world, Chara brings the physical defensive play the team needs in order to be a serious competitor at the Olympic games. The Boston Bruins released Chara from two NHL games so that he could carry the Slovakian flag in the Opening Ceremony. “Big Z” commented on his flag duties in a presser Friday saying it’s a “dream come true.”

The tall NHL star’s hotel bed and pictures with fellow Olympians have already made news since his arrival in Sochi, and Slovakia fans must be hoping these Chara-themed headlines continue once the games begin.

Slovakia’s roster now includes a slim 12 NHL players, meaning they are going to have to look to players like Chara, and Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj for strength. In Chara’s third Olympic appearance, Slovakia can only hope he brings the same intensity to the winter games that he does when playing at the Garden.

Photo via Twitter/@BostonGlobe