Old friend Ziggy Palffy to carry flag for Slovakia
Ziggy Palffy, still fondly remembered by Kings fans for his three 30-plus-goal seasons, will have the honor of carrying the flag for Slovakia in Friday's opening ceremony at BC Place.
The high-scoring right wing, who last played for the Kings in the 2003-04 season and last played in the NHL in the 2005-06 season, retired from the national team in 2005 and from hockey overall in 2006 but returned to play for HK Skalica in the Slovak Extraliga in 2007. He's now an assistant coach of Skalica and said this will be his last Olympics.
"It's nice to be here in Canada, a hockey world," he told the Olympic News Service. "I want to have good memories."
Slovakia should be a medal contender thanks to the recent strong play of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has a 2.45 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in 29 games this season with the Montreal Canadiens. "I don't like to put everything on Jaroslav's shoulders, but he's important to us," Slovakian coach Jan Filc told reporters Wednesday. "He's showed his best over the last couple of weeks."
Filc also said he's awaiting final word on the severity of the lacerated thigh suffered by winger Marian Gaborik. The 35-goal scorer was cut by the skate of teammate Henrik Lundqvist in practice with the New York Rangers on Tuesday and didn't play against Nashville on Wednesday.
"I hope it's a matter of a couple of days," Filc said.
In more hockey-player-carries-the-flag news, five-time NHL scoring champion Jaromir Jagr will do the honors for the Czech Republic. Jagr, 37, plays for Avangard Omsk of the Russian KHL.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Ziggy Palffy during his days with the Kings.