DALLAS, Texas - The NHLers have arrived in Sochi to play in the tournament the NHL hates/needs, and the players have begun the hyper compressed process of getting used to the time change, and their new/old teammates.
The NHL owners sound like they would like to kill the NHL players participation in the Olympic tournament, yet the players, and coaches, prefer to remain. Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff, who is an assistant for Team Canada, sounds like he has no interest in giving up this opportunity.
"I just think you get this one chance to represent your country, millions of people are watching," Ruff told me last week. "You have that one moment to do something special, and I think every country feels that. I think Canada feels it a little bit more because Canadians history with hockey, and with Canada-Russian hockey. There is a long, long history."
Specifically, he would be referring to the famous 1972 Summit Series, the famous Team Canada series against the Soviet Union.
Ruff coached for Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, when Team Canada defeated Team USA in overtime in the gold medal game. That moment was a professional high for Ruff, and a personal low. The goalie for Team USA was Ryan Miller, who was his No. 1 guy in Buffalo.
"It was in one moment you are celebrating, and the next moment you are seeing him there distraught," Ruff said. "He had one hell of a tournament. He might have been the best in the tournament and he ends up second best. It really was (bittersweet). I gave him a hug and a little talk at center ice and I told him I was really proud of him. He just said thanks. There is nothing you can say at that time to make someone feel any better."
Miller is back on Team USA in 2014.
FYI - The men's hockey tournament begins on Wednesday with Switzerland playing Latvia and Sweden against the Czech Republic. On Thursday, the U.S. will play Slovakia and Canada plays Norway.
And Russia will play the U.S. on Saturday.
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