CALGARY -- Few players can boast that they've hoisted the Stanley Cup over their head and had an Olympic gold medal placed around their neck.
But for three members of the Chicago Blackhawks who have won both, the accomplishments generate totally different emotions.
"They’re both very special experiences," said defenseman Duncan Keith, who won gold with Canada in 2010 months before capturing his first Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. "When you win a Stanley Cup, I dreamed about that sort of thing when I was a kid. To be able to do that after a long season and a long grind is definitely rewarding. At the same time, when you play on an Olympic team you’re representing your country and it’s a huge honor in itself to have that jersey on.
"To win an Olympic gold medal it means you’re the best team is the world at that time. It’s a special feeling."
Keith played alongside Blackhawks teammates Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews on Canada's 2010 Olympic championship team and Chicago's Cup winners. The trio added a second Stanley Cup this past June, dispatching of the Boston Bruins in six games to end a grueling, two-month playoff marathon. They'll be trying to replicate their success in Vancouver in a span of 11 days during February.
To Seabrook, the time spans are the difference between the achievements.
"Winning the gold medal; it’s a short tournament with a bunch of new guys, and winning a Stanley Cup is a grind that you have all year," he said. "At the same time, coming to an Olympic team in Vancouver, we only had two weeks to go. You sort of prepare for that throughout the whole season. Your game, you’re trying to get it as best you can. When you get the call that you made the team you have about a month until the Games actually start and you’re prepared and try to be ready as you can."
Toews, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 2010 playoffs after being named the best forward at the Olympic tournament, echoed Seabrook's sentiment.
"As an NHL player, it’s the highest professional level, and I’d say the Olympics is the next thing," he said. "To be able to represent your country -- especially Canada, where every single person around our country is watching that team -- there’s a lot of pressure and responsibility to show you belong. To win a gold medal is a great feeling in that regard; winning a Stanley Cup is more of a team aspect where you’re with the same guys every day and you sacrifice for one another to reach that goal.”
So which would they rather win?
Keith has no qualms with one over the other.
"They’re both special. They’re both unique feelings," he said. "Anytime you win a championship, it’s the best feeling in the world.
"I mean, a win’s a win, right?"