For the second consecutive Games and fourth time in the country's history, Slovakia will have a hockey player be its flag bearer during the opening ceremonies at next month's Winter Olympic in Sochi.
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will join Peter Stastny (1994), Robert Petrovicky (2002) and Ziggy Palffy (2010) as the Slovak athlete given the honor of carrying his country's flag. He was also named captain of the men's hockey team earlier this month.
The opening ceremonies will be held on Friday, Feb. 7, six days before Slovakia plays its first game of the tournament against the U.S. According to the Slovak Olympic Committee and confirmed by the Bruins Thursday, Chara was given permission by the team to leave early and will miss their final game before the NHL break against the Ottawa Senators.
As our friend Patrik Pastyrcak, who hipped us to the story, said, there will likely be no flag flying higher than that of Slovakia's during the opening ceremonies.
UPDATE: Via CSNNE's Joe Haggerty, here's Claude Julien on the decision:
“When you look at what Zee has done for this club, I think it’s an easy decision to make when you’re carrying the flag for your country at the Olympics.
“Even if he misses a game, maybe two, I think it’s the least we can do for a guy that’s given so much to us since he’s been here.”
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