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Hitch says ‘it’s going to be different’ with larger ice surface in Sochi

Dec 30, 2013, 12:41 PM EDT

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The larger international ice surface. Some believe it will be a major factor at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Some disagree, calling it much ado about, well, maybe not nothing, but not as much as some people are making it out to be.

It sounds like you can put Ken Hitchcock in the group that believes it’s a big factor. It won’t be like an NHL game over there, according to Team Canada’s associate coach.

“Size isn’t as relevant as it would be in a [game on a small ice surface],” Hitchcock told NHL.com. “We’re going to play against quicker players than we ever have played against before. We’re going to play against players that have great agility, great one-on-one skills. We’re going to see lineups that are different than we would play in North America.

“The game in Vancouver [2010 Olympics] was very much an NHL game. It felt like an NHL game and it looked like an NHL game, but it’s going to be different in Europe because we’re going to play against more quickness, more agility than we have ever seen in our lives.”

How the bigger ice surface affects Canada’s roster decisions remains to be seen. Hitchcock’s comments wouldn’t seem to bode well for a player like Boston’s Milan Lucic, a big, physical winger not known for his beautiful skating.

And what about a defenseman like Chicago’s Brent Seabrook? Like Lucic, he’s big and physical, but he doesn’t skate like, say, PK Subban.

Once all the rosters are set and the tournament starts, it will be interesting to see the difference in style compared to 2010, when Canada was able to employ a punishing forecheck, led by the likes of Brenden Morrow.

On paper, the Americans seem suited for a fast game, with excellent skaters like Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, and Ryan Kesler, to name just three.

  1. terrier92 - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Loooooch is a winner . Hope he makes cut. Sadly Hitch is correct and I doubt they take him

  2. joey4id - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    There are players who will benefit greatly playing on the IIHF rink. Kane, Malkin, Sedin, etc… The more talented and best skaters will use the ice surface to their advantage. It seems like were always having this discussion before an international event. Coaches and players need to make adjustments and there is not doubt that they all will.

  3. joey4id - Dec 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    BTW, I would prefer seeing a guy like Kunitz win a spot over Lucic. I think it’s beneficial to have at least 2 players on a line who are familiar with each other.
    Crosby & Kunitz, Toews & Sharp, and Getzlaf & Perry.

  4. mikebel11 - Dec 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Lucic wouldn’t make the team regardless of setting. His high hits and cross checks on every shift would result in him spending the entire game in the penalty box with international referees.

  5. brockohol - Dec 30, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    This is for sure correct. If your rounding out your team with those 4th line guys your not going to go with the bigger slower guys. Seabrook is playing awesome this year and he should for sure make the trip to Russia but guys like Subban and Booooomeester are much better suited to be on that large ice surface.

    Why was Lucic even brought up in this article? He has the 29th most points among CAN forwards this season. I know points will not be the only deciding factor when picking a team but c’mon

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