Karlis Skrastins isnt exactly a household name to most NHL fans, even though he holds an NHL record for most consecutive games played by a defenseman. However to Latvian hockey fans he certainly is. Skrastins has over 700 NHL games, mostly as a depth defenseman on forgetable non-playoff clubs. So its easy to be unaware of him despite his 700+ NHL games.
In Latvia, he is one of the most successful players they have ever developed. Only Arturs Irbe and Sandis Ozolinsh can lay claim to being unquestionably better. Because of this, Skrastins will be relied upon heavily in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics, especially since the previously mentioned duo or Irbe & Ozolinsh are not there.
Currently with the Dallas Stars of the NHL. Karlis has generally been a consistent piece to most of the teams hes played on. Not a flashy puck mover, Karlis relies on strong defensive play to maintain his career. Its a skill that will come in handy with a Latvian team that might see the puck in their end often on some nights against the more dangerous teams.
With over 70 international appearances for Latvia under his belt, Karlis is very experienced at playing for his country. This will be his 3rd appearance for Latvia in the Olympics. That experience will go a long way in helping the team survive a tournament that they go into, not with medal hopes, but with improving ther IIHF rankings hopes.
Karlis Skrastins wont neccesarily be in Vancouver thinking of a medal, he will be in Vancouver hoping to help get Latvia some recognition in the hockey world. If he achieves that & they manage an upset or two, this will probably be like winning a medal for him.
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