Capitals defenseman John Carlson was named to the U.S. Olympic team for men’s ice hockey on Wednesday afternoon. He is one of eight blueliners and 25 players named to Team USA’s roster. The announcement was made immediately following Wednesday’s Winter Classic game between Detroit and Toronto.
Asked last week about why Carlson deserved a berth on Team USA, Caps coach Adam Oates didn’t hesitate.
“To me that’s an easy answer,” said Oates. “He should be on it because he is one of the best defensemen in the league. He plays a lot of minutes, plays physical, has an unlimited tank, plays in every situation, will do anything you ask of him, [play on a] shutdown pair [and contribute] offense.
“I just feel that he has handled the responsibility of more minutes. [Mike Green] got hurt, and unfortunately for us Greenie has been hurt a lot. By virtue of that, Carly has had to grow. And he’s handled it. Some guys couldn’t, he did.”
Carlson will be the first American player from the Capitals to play in the Olympics since NHL players were first eligible for the Games in 1998. He is the first Caps defenseman to represent his country in the Olympic Games since Ivan Majesky (Slovakia) in 2006 and the fourth Caps defenseman to play in the Olympics (Calle Johansson for Sweden in 1998 and Sergei Gonchar for Russia in 2002).
Over the last four winter Olympic Games dating back to 1998, the Caps have had 15 players represent their respective countries in men’s ice hockey. Alex Ovechkin (2006 and 2010) and Olie Kolzig (1998 and 2006) have both done so twice.
No Caps player has come home with a gold medal in that span.
Carlson’s previous international experience includes being a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA club that beat Team Canada on Canadian ice at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship. Just 19 years old at the time, Carlson supplied the overtime game-winning goal that sent the Canadians to defeat in that tournament.
With seven goals this season, Carlson is just two shy of his single-season career best of nine established in 2011-12. He has also played in each of Washington’s first 40 games this season and has played in 254 consecutive games, the second longest streak ever by a Washington defenseman.