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.”
Sep 15, 2014, 9:05 PM EDT
Some optimism about how his knee is feeling.
Sep 15, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT
Sep 15, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
More training camp invites.
Sep 15, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
He’s reportedly talking to several teams.
Sep 15, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
“I still think something will get done before camp.”
Sep 15, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
Potentially adding some depth.
Sep 15, 2014, 2:52 PM EDT
Former Kings, Flames netminder lands in an interesting spot.
Sep 15, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT
Veteran guy, but not the righty Mike Babcock was looking for…
Sep 15, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Because it hasn’t yet decided if it will.
Sep 15, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Also includes a similar series dedicated to the Sharks-Kings outdoor game.
Sep 15, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
That’s businessman and former Harvard hockey player, Phil Falcone.
Sep 15, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Medvescak Zagreb, which now has a boatload of ex-NHLers.
Sep 15, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
The Wild want the flexibility of a two-way deal, however.
Sep 15, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty will all serve as alternates.
Sep 15, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
If you think he might blame coach Dallas Eakins for Edmonton’s struggles in 2013-14, think again.
Sep 15, 2014, 9:49 AM EDT
Should be an interesting next few days in New Jersey.
Sep 15, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Just one part of the Ilya Bryzgalov “fiasco.”
Sep 15, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Sep 14, 2014, 10:56 PM EDT
The Hall of Famer has been tasked with aiding bench boss Ted Nolan in Buffalo’s difficult rebuild.
Sep 14, 2014, 9:44 PM EDT
But who and when?
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 3
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 46
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 14
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 44
- Devils post-Martin Brodeur era about to truly start 9
- Report: Rangers expected to announce captain on Thursday 12
- Snider: Flyers not hiding behind ‘horrible mistake’ of signing Bryzgalov 21
- P.K. Subban: ‘I’m not trying to change the game of hockey’ 24
- Demand for Canucks tickets plummeting according to broker 39