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.”
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He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9.
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They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process.
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Of course, neither will be wearing a Sabres’ uniform – not yet at least.
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They’ve also appointed Don Sweeney as the AHL team’s new general manager.
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It matters given that they will start next season with a largely unchanged roster.
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Ken Holland hasn’t been in contact with him lately, but that will change soon.
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He hasn’t played for them since 2007.
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It’s a two-way deal.
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Mr. Hockey still reigns supreme in Detroit.
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“I haven’t heard that.”
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“We haven’t defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made.”
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Needs to bounce back after last year’s disappointing campaign.
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Finished second in the NHL among forwards last year, with 87.
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Former Quebec league sniper is gunning for a gig in Detroit.
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Former Tampa Bay forward was bought out of his contract earlier this summer, following legal troubles.
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He’ll enter the second season of his seven-year, $36.75 million contract.
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They have made it to the playoffs for 23 straight seasons.
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He’s the former face of the franchise.
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A recent report has added new fuel to the speculation on that subject.
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