Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
• Really, really curious to watch Ryan Miller. Aside from last year, his late-season numbers aren’t great. Is he starting to burn out from carrying the Sabres on his back, again?
• Thought Marc Crawford made a really interesting point about the team with the most fluid skaters being in best position to win. His theory: as the players get exhausted in the later rounds, those who expend less energy while striding will have an advantage. He pointed out two Canadians in particular: Scott Niedermayer and Patrice Bergeron.
“It’s really amazing to me when people talk about all the pressure the hockey team has.
“I’m watching skiing (and) they fall, and that’s it. All that hard work for a 30-second race.
“Hockey is talked about more, and it’s a sport so many Canadians have a passion for, but I think it’s safe to say that every Olympic athlete has to deal with pressure.
“We’re in Canada, we’ve got the whole country behind us. That’s a pretty great opportunity.”
-Sidney Crosby of Team Canada. More on Crosby from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star.
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
The 2010 Winter Olympics has the ingredients to be the best international hockey tournament ever.
“We have the best environment possible in our 100 years,” said Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the organizing body for the tournament. “If it will be the best tournament, I don’t know. But it is our most important tournament for sure.”
The players and teams involved in playing the 30 games of this tournament will determine if it is the best of the four Olympics that have involved NHL players since the experiment started in Nagano in 1998. But, it is impossible to imagine it not being the case.
Why? Because the best players in the world have all congregated in this city to wage a pitched battle for gold. It should be unforgettable theater.
“We’re getting screwed on the schedule because we’re in Canada. I mean, it makes sense. They want Canada in the prime-time slot.
“Magically, when we play them, we’re in the 4:30 (PT) slot. How did that happen?”
Team USA General Manager Brian Burke. More from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics.
from the CP at CTVOlympics,
Canada opened its Vancouver Games account with an 18-0 thumping of Slovakia on Saturday. On Sunday, questions about the lopsided score were raised at the daily IOC-VANOC joint briefing.
IOC director of communications Mark Adams said the issue was not raised between the two organizations
“Clearly if you’re on the losing side of a hiding, it’s never much fun,’’ said the Briton, who watched the game. “But I’m sure they had a great experience and I’m sure they’re thankful to be Olympians.
“You know these things happen in all sports, at all levels. They’re a good team but clearly yesterday Canada were the better team - by a long way.’‘
Asked about a possible mercy rule, Adams said: “It’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure it would have been good last night. I enjoyed watching the game.’‘
from Chris Stevenson at the Toronto Sun,
The Team Canada coach showed up with his game face on as he hit town to take the helm and finalize preparations for Canada’s first game Tuesday against Norway.
After concentrating on his Detroit Red Wings, Babcock can now fully allow himself to turn his attention to prepping Team Canada.
“Now it’s time to emotionally engage,” said Babcock. “We’ve done all the work, but you’re so involved in your own schedule. I live in the U.S., so you don’t get it like you people do every day. It’s very obvious — I watched the opening ceremonies, I watched the events last night — so it’s very obvious that it’s very exciting. I’m thrilled to be here.”
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Tomas Holmstrom’s ailing left knee has forced him to withdraw from the Swedish Olympic team, enabling Detroit Red Wings teammate Johan Franzen to take his place, according to Sweden’s Expressen.
Franzen has played only three games since returning from knee surgery, which idled him for four months. But he is skating well and said he feels good. It will be his first Olympic appearance.
added 5:00pm, via Kevin Allen tweet,
It’s official: Red Wings Johan Franzen replaces Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom on the Swedish Olympic hockey team.
from Donna Spencer of the CP at CTVOlympics,
Sidney Crosby and company are moving into the athletes village, and Canada’s Olympians can’t wait for their new neighbours to arrive.
“I’ll walk up to Crosby and say ‘Hey man, you’re awesome.’ And he’ll be like ‘Who are you?” said Calgary luger Jeff Christie….
“I just would like to know how he deals with certain situations, like the Stanley Cup,” said Toronto figure skater Patrick Chan, a medal contender in his own right. “That’s probably the equivalent of the Olympics. I think he’s really wise and he’s young like I am, so he’s kind of in the same situation.”
Calgary curler Cheryl Bernard said she and her teammates anticipate sitting across the table from them in the dining hall.
“I’m a little concerned that our team is going to get a reputation for being stalkers of the men’s hockey team,” she said.
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• My buddies from Quebec are outraged—they are always outraged about something—that none of the five final torch-bearers for Canada were French-Canadian. No Gaetan Boucher, they say. To be honest, I couldn’t find a thing wrong with Gretzky, Catriona Le May Doan, Steve Nash, Nancy Greene and Rick Hansen. Four Western Canadians and a guy who lives in California. Let the Quebecers whine.
• Chris Mason is the standby goaltender, which is nice for him. But in truth, if Team Canada needs a fourth goalie, they’re in trouble
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
But if the NHL pulls out, the flavour and competitive nature of the tournament will be enormously different in Sochi when it returns – correctly – to the larger international ice surface. With no NHLers, the U.S. will have to go back to using college kids, Canada’s team will look like a Spengler Cup entrant again and the NHL will be handing over the tournament marquee to the KHL, which already will have 60 or more players in the Vancouver tournament.
Which league will look big-league then? How will the NHL gain by retreating into self-imposed Olympic exile while countries like Latvia and Germany suddenly find themselves able to compete with the top North American countries, home to the NHL?
This, to be fair, shapes up to be a brilliant hockey tournament, one without a clear favourite. There’s Canada with home-ice advantage, the Swedes as defending champs and the Russians holding bragging rights from back-to-back world titles. The U.S. will be sentimental favourites due to Brian Burke’s personal ordeal and everybody seems to forget Finland won silver four years ago.
But without the NHL, there might be even more intrigue, more of a sense of the unknown.
Better than anything Bettman’s league can ever serve up in the final two weeks of February, for sure.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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