Ever since Martin Gerber began the embarrassment that was the 2006 Torino Olympic hockey tournament for Canada, Team Switzerland has mostly been no fun for anyone to face at all.
That triumph began the road that recently culminated in a world championship silver medal in the 2013 tournament, something the small nation — coached by Canadian Sean Simpson — did after beating the likes of eventual champions Sweden, Canada, the Czech Republic and the United States, and remained undefeated until the gold medal game.
Simply put, it’s time to take the Swiss and their Canadian-style physical, disciplined and determined game seriously.
Here is a breakdown of Team Switzerland’s roster by position.
Scoring has never been Switzerland’s calling card, but the new generation of national team members is certainly an upgrade in that department.
Nino Niederreiter will get a fresh start with the Minnesota Wild after his career didn’t go to plan with the New York Islanders. He was superb at the last world championship, tying for the team lead in points with eight in nine games.
Damien Brunner was busy with the Detroit Red Wings during that run to the podium, but the slick, two-way forward will have a large role to play at the Games while Sven Baertschi looks ready to take the next step to be a key piece for both the Calgary Flames and the Swiss national team.
Reto Suri opened many eyes last season at Zug of the Swiss League and as a dynamic presence at the worlds, along with former Guelph Storm forward Denis Hollenstein, is poised to bring more pure scoring to the Swiss roster.
Andres Ambuhl was superb at the last Olympics and earned himself a chance to make the New York Rangers (which failed), but the veteran will be back with his equal parts sandpaper, equal parts skill.
Martin Pluss remains on the national team radar after playing in every senior tournament except for two since 1997 since his play-making ability and vision still remain strong, while his SC Bern teammate, the Toronto-born six-foot-seven veteran Ryan Gardner is still highly effective.
While Roman Josi likely has not made Nashville Predators fans forget about Ryan Suter, his blossoming into a tremendous two-way presence must soften the blow. His point totals are steady, but with his shot, mobility and intelligence, he’ll play huge minutes for the Swiss.
Mark Streit moved from the New York Islanders to the Philadelphia Flyers in the off-season and has been the captain of every Switzerland outfit he has played for since 2003 (including the last two Olympics). If the soon-to-be 36-year-old is getting long in the tooth, he didn’t show it last year playing big minutes in all 48 games.
Luca Sbisa, Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber are all young, fast-improving, puck-moving and reliable NHL defenders, while old, dependable Mathias Seger is loaded with leadership intangibles and compete level.
Switzerland’s goaltending at the last two Olympics has been exceptional, and with the experience of Jonas Hiller and Martin Gerber, it would be hard to imagine it to be any different this time around.
The Anaheim Ducks’ Hiller put up solid numbers in a time share last season with Viktor Fasth and looks to shoulder the load in the Swiss goal.
Veteran Martin Gerber and 26-year-old Reto Berra, who will contend for the Calgary Flames’ starting job, will battle for the back-up and third-string jobs.
Twenty-one-year-old Benjamin Conz, who was huge at the world juniors a few years ago, continues to dominate the Swiss league for Fribourg-Gotteron and looks a good bet to compete for the job 2018.