The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/12/14 at 09:20 AM ET
I readily admit that I follow the men's Olympic hockey tournament from more of a "Red Wings fan's" perspective than a nationally-loyal one, so my experiencing of the jostling and pronounced gamesmanship between players, coaches and executives who are usually rooting for each other is...One of discomfort.
The CBC's Elliotte Friedman posited a set of 30 mostly Olympic-related "Thoughts" this morning, and his Red Wings-related ones noted both that one Pavel Datsyuk is taking his own approach to the unbelievably pressure-filled job that is captaining Team Russia...
12. Pavel Datsyuk on Russia’s 2010 Olympic crash: “How many years ago was that?” Answer: “Four.” Reply: “You remember that, not me.”
And he also notes that Datsyuk's status as "recovering from an injury" (Knee sprain? Groin issue? It depends on whose sources you're taking as factual, and "groin injury" could be Russian for "bruised fallopian tubes") seems to have generated some honest-to-goodness conflict--at least for the Olympics, and hopefully not for too long thereafter--between Datsyuk and his NHL employer's coach:
13. Datsyuk has a great deadpan sense of humour, but didn’t seem pleased with Mike Babcock questioning his health. He says he’s good to go, although there are rumours of a degenerative or arthritic knee issue. For his part, Babcock said, “Like any player recovering from injury, Pavel is going to get better as he plays.”
14. That’s one of the most important things to remember about this event…the best players and best teams use the preliminary round as more of a dress rehearsal. Babcock reminded the Canadians they will face adversity several times in this event. ,” Henrik Zetterberg said, “We have three games to figure out what our strengths are.” That’s why it is unwise to get too wrapped up in early line combinations or even some of the results. Things are going to change. The two times Canadians won gold, the goalie who started the first game was the backup in the final.
Friedman continues, and again, sending any player to the Olympics is a devil's bargain. Regardless of whether they leave dealing with an injury, whether they end up getting hurt and playing through something or whether they stay healthy, the NHL team consenting to place its players in contact sport's harm's way has to worry and worry some more about getting one's key contributors back in one piece.
In Datsyuk's case, there was no way in hell that Russia's captain could have made the decision to skip the Olympics unless he was literally playing on one leg because the other had fallen off, and the fact that Datsyuk is competing against an opposing team's coach who doesn't seem to feel charitably toward anyone who has to make a Steve Yzerman-circa-2002 Faustian bargain to play through an injury that could affect his play after the games...
Makes things "interesting."
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.