Feb 11, 2014, 2:00 AM EDT
Four years ago, it was the Canadian hockey team dealing with the expectation and pressure of an entire nation on its shoulder.
Now, with the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the Russian hockey team is in a similar situation, although one could argue it’s even more magnified for the host squad this time around.
Canadian forward Jonathan Toews, who transformed into a pivotal member of Canada’s gold-medal team in Vancouver, has no problem recalling the pressures of playing on home ice in the Olympics and the anxious energy that can provide.
“Oh, yeah. I remember the first practice, pucks were flying off my stick,” Toews told Bruce Arthur of Canada.com’s 2014 Winter Olympics coverage. “I was nervous. I was excited. It was a pretty amazing thing to be there, at that age and have that chance.
“The Russians have a little more pressure, this time. I’d say that pressure’s still on us, but you don’t feel it as much. You don’t see everything on TV, you don’t have trouble going to sleep at night because you can hear Vancouver just buzzing all night. So we know that’s there, but it’s easier to block it out and just focus on hockey, because you’re not experiencing it firsthand.”
The Russians are certainly aware of the expectations on them, especially after losing in the quarter-final to Canada in the 2010 Games. They’ve had four years to think about it; for that memory to linger.
“I think our players, they have good experience,” said Russia’s head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. “I don’t think they will feel bad, I mean will feel big pressure. They’re strong players, good players. I think they’re OK.”
But there are also some injury issues, especially with Pavel Datsyuk, who has played twice for the Detroit Red Wings since the Winter Classic.
“He’s probably been preparing for this tournament for five or six years when it was announced that it was coming to Russia,” Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland said recently of Datsyuk. “I’m sure if he couldn’t play, he won’t play.
“Is he 100 percent? Probably not, but there are probably other players in this tournament who aren’t 100 percent.”
Jul 6, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
25-year-old defenseman struggled mightily last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:48 PM EDT
Connor McDavid’s running mate in Erie was the OHL’s leading scorer last season.
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Quebec City and Las Vegas have already expressed interest.
Jul 6, 2015, 6:08 PM EDT
Russian forward is coming off a solid rookie campaign.
Jul 6, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
It’s now a crowded crease in Edmonton.
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For the third straight year.
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That’s him in the blue shirt, standing next to ex-NHL goalie Dan Cloutier… who is 6’1.
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Spent last year with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.
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Click for all the cap hits.
Jul 6, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT
His Kelowna Rockets went to the 2015 Memorial Cup.
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“You basically say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on, but it’s a great place to play and we have great fans and a great stadium.'”
Jul 6, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
Played 59 games for the Sabres last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
“He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us.”
Jul 6, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
They have the arena, but not the potential owner.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT
Finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver.
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Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
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The 23-year-old could be in line for a significant raise.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
He was bought out by Carolina last week.
- Bruins sign three — Hayes, Connolly, and DeFazio 10
- Babcock expects Kadri to be ‘an elite player’ 14
- No expansion bid expected from Kansas City 32
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 17
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 12
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 13
- Report: Plotnikov paid $500K to get out of KHL contract 14
- Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov 12
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 22
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 25