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Whitney, Gleason chosen for US Olympic hockey team

Ryan Whitney of the Anaheim Ducks and Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes were chosen Thursday to replace injured defensemen Paul Martin and Mike Komisarek on the U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Whitney and Gleason were selected from the pool of players who participated in the team's orientation camp last summer. The moves to replace Martin and Komisarek were made less than two weeks before the United States' opening game in Vancouver against Switzerland on Feb. 16.

Team USA general manager Brian Burke said Whitney and Gleason have similar styles to the players they are replacing. That and their previous participation in other international competitions were key factors in their inclusion to the team.

"If you're on a job site and you break a hammer, you don't buy a drill you buy another hammer," Burke said during a conference call. "Ryan is a guy that has size, is reliable defensively but also moves the puck well, a la Paul Martin. Tim Gleason is a guy like Mike Komisarek who can kill penalties, block shots, finish checks and chew up some ice time against big bodies."

Final rosters are due Feb. 15 when the U.S. team will conduct its only pre-Olympics practice.

Martin of the New Jersey Devils was already out with a broken forearm when the Olympic team was announced on Jan. 1. Toronto's Komisarek has been out since injuring a shoulder on Jan. 2 and will have surgery that will sideline him for the season. Both players withdrew from the team earlier this week.

"We have been prepared and we're still prepared," Burke said. "There is a very good chance we'll have other conference calls because we're going to have additional injuries between now and when this tournament begins. We're on our toes now. We actually talked about the next group of forwards that we would tap if we have a forward injury.

"I don't like talking about injuries because as soon as you do, someone gets hurt. But we're trying to be prepared for every eventuality at forward, defense and goal before we get on the plane to go to Vancouver."

Burke, who is also Toronto's general manager, was placed in the unique position of monitoring up close Komisarek's quest to rehab in an attempt to return to the Maple Leafs' lineup as well as get ready to play for the U.S. team in Vancouver.

But he said the lines were never blurred.

"The one ground rule we had clear right off the bat with Mike Komisarek and with Paul Martin was that their NHL teams came first," Burke said. "Mike Komisarek is under contract to this team for five years at a lot of money.

"There is no question that these players' primary obligation is to their NHL teams."

The 26-year-old Whitney, in his first full season with Anaheim after being traded last February by Pittsburgh, has four goals and 20 assists in 57 games. He played in two World Junior Championships, and took part in the 2001 under-18 championship, as well.

Gleason, 27, had five goals and 10 assists in 48 games this season with the Hurricanes. He has suited up for Team USA three times, including at the 2008 world championships. Gleason was also a two-time member of the U.S. national junior team.

"These are both players who were prominent as far as the original decision in picking the teams," Burke said. "Both character guys. Both have gladly answered the call for Team USA when asked in the past."