Michael Grabner has something special to look forward to next February. Needing only one point to win its qualifying group, Grabner's native Austria reached the 2014 Winter Olympics hockey tournament in Sochi, Russia, with a 3-2 overtime loss to Germany on Sunday. Grabner, who played for his hometown Villach during the lockout, certainly will be on the Olympic roster if the NHL and its players association agree on participation, which seems assured.
"I've only ever watched on TV," said Grabner, who played in the qualifying tournament before the 2010 Games in Vancouver, when Austria failed to qualify. "It's going to be something to always remember."
Austria last reached the Olympics in 2002, and the only NHLer on that squad was former Islander and Ranger Thomas Pock. Grabner and Thomas Vanek, the NHL's leading scorer, will headline a different-looking squad in 2014.
Former Islanders coach Ted Nolan led Latvia through Olympic qualifying this past weekend. Slovenia, coached by Kings center Anze Kopitar's father, Matjaz, pulled off the biggest surprise, advancing with a win over host Denmark.
Visnovsky's son OK
Lubomir Visnovsky reported that his 4-year-old son had successful surgery in Bratislava, Slovakia, over the weekend and that his wife and two children soon will join him on Long Island. The nature of the surgery was not specified.
Visnovsky did not report to the Islanders when training camp began because of concerns about his son's health. He hoped to stay the entire season in Slovakia, but the KHL said he could not. Once he was assured that his son's surgery was set, Visnovsky reported Thursday.