It had been known for weeks that Islanders general manager Garth Snow didn't want defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky playing for Slovakia in the Olympics. Visnovsky has appeared in five games since missing the previous 46 with a concussion, and Snow had hoped he'd take it easy for a few weeks as opposed to risking further injury in Sochi.
Snow had been adamant that he wasn't comfortable in letting Visnovsky go, which led to public comments from Otto Sykora, Slovakia's general manager, speaking out against the Islanders. He questioned why they would not let him go even though Visnovsky had played in five games since returning from his lengthy layoff.
Visnovsky himself, however, confirmed to Sykora that he was not up to playing, the GM told the Associated Press.
Sykora described Visnovsky's absence to the AP as “a huge loss for us.”
A replacement has not yet been selected, but it is certainly a blow to Slovakia's defensive corps, which includes a mix of NHL players and European pros. Visnovsky would have brought a strong puck-moving presence to the blue line and as a three-time Olympian, he has tremendous experience.
Slovakia was already going to have to lean heavily on captain Zdeno Chara, but that's even more true now. They still have some quality blueliners to call upon including Andrej Sekera, who is enjoying a standout campaign with the Carolina Hurricanes. He should be able to pick up some of the production from the back end.
Visnovsky is the second major loss to the team this week as Marian Gaborik was also ruled out of the Olympics due to a collarbone injury.
Slovakia has a tough schedule, opening with the United States and closing out the preliminary round against Russia. The Slovakians finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics after a surprising run through that tournament. Working that same kind of magic is going to be awfully tough with two big losses from their roster.