Feb 11, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
SOCHI, Russia — Steve Yzerman was asked Monday what the biggest adjustment his collection of star players would have to make to have success at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Not surprisingly, given he just got off a long flight from North America, Team’s Canada’s architect called the time change “a huge difference, number one.” And as countless others had already done, he referenced the larger ice surface, too.
But the “biggest difference” for the players? According to Yzerman, that was going to be “playing a lesser role” compared to what they were used to with their NHL clubs.
“You’ve got forwards that are used to playing 21, 22 minutes a game that are going to play 10 and 11, and defensemen that are used to playing 27 playing 18,” he said. “That’s a huge adjustment for them.”
Take Jamie Benn, the captain of the Dallas Stars who’s used to hopping over the boards for 25 shifts a night and being out there for every power play.
On Team Canada, his role is going to be dramatically different.
“I think I’m going to see a lot more of a PK role, checking line,” the first-time Olympian said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”
In fact, he agrees his role may be similar to what the last Stars captain before him, Brenden Morrow, had with Team Canada in Vancouver – get in on the forecheck and “make things happen.”
Said Mike Babcock of Morrow in 2010: “He’s one of those guys that’s got real good hockey sense, but he’s satisfied to be a grinder on this team. He’s added energy.”
Adjusting to “lesser” roles isn’t just an issue for star-studded Canada, as United States coach Dan Byslma made clear Tuesday.
“Look at the defensemen that we have here,” said Bylsma. “Most of them are accustomed to playing 23-plus minutes, 24-, 25-plus minutes for their own respective teams.
“When you’re putting seven defensemen on your bench and onto the ice, I can’t do the math really quick, not everybody can play 23 minutes and [Ryan Suter] play 30, 33, 34 minutes that he sometimes does for his NHL team.”
Byslma still expects Suter to play upwards of 25 minutes a game in Sochi, so it may not be a huge adjustment for him. But it will for at least a few of the other guys.
Of the eight defensemen on the U.S. roster, Kevin Shattenkirk has the lowest average ice time, logging 20:24 per game for the Blues.
Jul 28, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
Both were part of Dallas’ 1999 championship.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT
He was recently hired by the team to serve as an assistant general manager.
Jul 28, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
That won’t be easy given the Bruins’ current logjam.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
He might still end up playing in Russia.
Jul 28, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He attempted to make the transition to North America in 2013-14.
Jul 28, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
The two sides are unlikely to agree to terms quickly though.
Jul 28, 2014, 4:37 PM EDT
Yashin and Bure are among the players that will compete against Los Angeles.
Jul 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“I was told there’s a definite opportunity.”
Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT
Former Anaheim forward posted a career high in points last year.
Jul 28, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
With Riley Sheahan also signed, the only RFA left is Danny DeKeyser.
Jul 28, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
He’s appeared in over 150 NHL games with Chicago, Dallas and Minnesota.
Jul 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Veteran goalie is high on his young teammates.
Jul 28, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT
“It’ll be done before camp.”
Jul 28, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Appeared in 83 games for Calgary over the last three seasons.
Jul 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They’ll be dancing close to the upper limit all year.
Jul 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
That and the rest of the links to start your day.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
He last played in 2001 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He’s played four full seasons there already.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He has a few guys that can help make it happen there.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
He was their final restricted free agent.
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