Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/11/14 at 06:54 AM ET
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Ken Hitchcock will be coaching in his fourth Olympics for Canada. In some ways the Olympics are the only time the hockey players get to feel like real athletes. Pretty much shielded from the media, staying in the athletes' village, simply hanging out, focused only on their job.
"They feel like they're just an athlete of a different discipline, and I think they really love that feeling," Hitchcock said in a recent interview.
The competition, too, is different, the reaction of players to the pressure, the stage, often unpredictably unique.
"It's like playing golf in a major. You're going to see things from people both good and bad you've never seen in your life because of the stress," Hitchcock said. "I've seen some unbelievably large swings in players' personalities."
And fans get it. They are drawn to it.
"I think they understand it -- that's why they love going to the games, that's why they love watching the games," Hitchcock said. "They know this is not going to be any regular-season game. They're going to see things they've never seen before, and the stakes are so high."...
But no matter how the NHL dresses up a World Cup of Hockey, it'll never be the Olympics. And say what you will about the Sochi Games, but there is simply nothing like the Olympics.
In the coming days we'll begin to get a sense of whether these Games will mark the end of an era for the NHL -- one filled with important, powerful memories -- or simply another grand tournament on the world's biggest stage on which to build even more memories.
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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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