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2014 Olympics

Canadian Olympians trust, believe in Babcock

Monday, 01.20.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Mike Babcock likes to say that gold-medal preparation yields gold-medal results. The players who were with him at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics can claim that they have their gold medals in part because of that very philosophy.

Canada won gold four years ago and will try to defend it next month with Babcock behind the bench at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"Everything was laid out there for us when we got to the Olympics," Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told NHL.com. "We were very well-prepared in what we wanted to accomplish on the ice as far as our systems and the way we wanted to play as a team. It was also communicated to us very clearly about what the other team's tendencies were, how they played their systems and the players on their team. That was one thing that stood out for me was how well prepared we were as players."

That preparation has players like Keith and the 10 others who played for Canada in Vancouver trusting that Babcock again is the ideal coach for them in a short tournament.


Crosby named captain of Team Canada

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 1:14 PM / 2014 Olympics


Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby was named captain of the Canadian team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The announcement was made by Hockey Canada on Sunday morning.

"It's definitely a huge honor," Crosby said. "I think playing for Team Canada and playing in the Olympics is a great opportunity, but being able to be named the captain, I think, is definitely an honor."

This will be the first time in Crosby's career that he will captain Canada's team during international play. He was an alternate captain for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when he scored the game-winning goal in overtime that defeated the United States 3-2 and won the goal medal for the Canadians. He was also Canada's alternate captain at the 2006 World Championships, where at the age of 18 he became the youngest player to ever lead the tournament in scoring with 16 points (eight goals, eight assists).


Jagr, Plekanec bank on chemistry for success in Sochi

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

When the Czech Republic announced the team that would represent the country at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, one of the big surprises was that Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec would serve as team captain.

Not that Plekanec is undeserving of such an honor, but considering the other options available to Czech coach Alois Hadamczik, his selection raised a few eyebrows.

Plekanec admitted even he was mildly surprised despite serving as Czech captain at the IIHF World Championships for the past few years. But he doesn't think it holds that much importance on a veteran-laden team.

"It's obviously a great honor and I'm happy about it, but it's just a letter on a jersey," Plekanec said the day he was named to the team. "We need to all play like captains to be successful."


Coyotes' Smith trying to live up to Olympic honor

Saturday, 01.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

Mike Smith
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 16-13-8
GAA: 2.85 | SVP: 0.911
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was an incredible honor, the fulfillment of a boyhood dream and the continuation of a family tradition.

But for Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, being selected to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was an additional reason to be concerned with his inconsistent play. Instead of enjoying the moment, it served as another impetus to iron out his problems between the pipes as soon as possible.

Smith got off to an 11-3-3 start and the Coyotes challenged for the best record in the conference. But since a 4-3 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 21, the Coyotes' most important player for the past three seasons had three wins in 18 decisions. Three wins in two months. His goals-against average was approaching 3.00 and his save percentage plummeted toward .900, not exactly the credentials any goaltender wants to take into the Olympics.

"You're already trying so hard to win games and putting that added pressure on yourself," Smith said. "Then you get added to the Olympic team and there is even more pressure to perform and do well.

"I'm already one to put enough pressure on myself," he said with a smile. "I don't need other things to add to it."


Family support made Olympic call sweeter for Sharp

Friday, 01.17.2014 / 3:49 PM / 2014 Olympics

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp cracked a smile Friday morning when asked about the first of his two hat tricks this season, which occurred on his 32nd birthday.

It happened Dec. 27 during a 7-2 victory for Sharp's Chicago Blackhawks, but the reason for his smile was more about who watched it live. Along with his wife, Abby, and two young daughters, Sharp's parents were at United Center to see it.

After an 11-hour ordeal at Calgary International Airport, they eventually made it to Chicago just in time to watch their son score three goals, make a great defensive play that led to another and garner the game's first star recognition.


Tarasenko to skate alongside idols at Olympics

Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

Vladimir Tarasenko
Right Wing - STL
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 28
SOG: 92 | +/-: 9
ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko watched first-hand the creative way the United States unveiled its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He saw the names of St. Louis Blues teammates David Backes, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk and was more than happy.

But happiness soon turned to angst. Tarasenko waited out the final days for his native Russia to reveal its roster.

Russia was more simplistic.

"I was at breakfast in Edmonton," Tarasenko said. "My agent [Alexei Dementiev] texted me that I made it and to go on the Internet page of the Russian Federation of Hockey and there was the roster.

"I called my girlfriend first, and right after my parents. Everybody was happy. It was pressure. When you know the date, the seventh of January, it was a nervous time."


Olympics-bound Barkov doesn't act his age

Wednesday, 01.15.2014 / 2:50 PM / 2014 Olympics

Alain Poupart - NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- In his usual quiet, low-key style, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov called being named to Finland's Olympic team a big dream. Just as quietly, he said it wasn't his biggest goal for this hockey season.

"My first main goal for this season was to play here and get a big role on this team and play as good as I can," Barkov said. "But I'm very happy to be there on the Olympic team and it'll be fun. I was so excited I was called on the Olympic team. It will be very fun to be there and play with guys like Teemu Selanne."

At 43, Selanne is the oldest player in the NHL. Barkov is the youngest, having turned 18 on Sept. 2.

The rookie is meeting his NHL goals so far this season, and then some. Barkov leads the Panthers in scoring with 23 points and is second among forwards in average ice time at 17:09.

Though Barkov looks every bit the teenager outside the rink, he looks like a 30-something veteran on the ice. He has since his first NHL game Oct. 4 when the Panthers beat the Dallas Stars 4-2.


Josi, Switzerland aiming high at Olympics

Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 12:05 PM / 2014 Olympics

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE – Among the various issues that have plagued the Nashville Predators this season, one was the early loss of defenseman Roman Josi to a concussion.

Josi, 23, was coming off the 2013 IIHF World Championships last spring, where he was named the tournament's most valuable player, its best defenseman and an all-star in leading his native Switzerland to a silver medal, its first medal in 60 years.

All of that momentum hit the brakes when Josi was injured in the season's second game. He sat out the next 10, and when he returned, he had a minus rating in five of his first six games – minus-7 in total. By all accounts, it took him about 10 games to get back into form.

Named recently to the Swiss national team, which will carry higher expectations entering the 2014 Sochi Olympics based on the finish at the Worlds, Josi is back in top form. At 25:45 per game in time on ice, Josi ranks sixth in the NHL. In the 21 games starting on Nov. 30, Josi has averaged nearly 27-and-a-half minutes per game, twice topping the 32-minute mark.


Stars rookie Nichushkin earns Olympic nod

Monday, 01.13.2014 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Heading into the 2013 NHL Draft, the word most commonly associated with Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin was "if."

If he could just adapt to the smaller ice surface.

If he could overcome the culture shock of coming to North America.

If he could find a way to get out of his contract in the Kontinental Hockey League.

That skepticism caused the talented Chelyabinsk native to fall to No. 10, where the Dallas Stars selected him. From that moment on, Dallas brass vowed to give the enigmatic Russian a chance to make the team for the start of the 2013-14 season.

Still, no one expected what the 6-foot-4, 18-year-old right wing has delivered his rookie season.


Not enough room on Canada roster for all deserving

Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 6:10 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

TORONTO -- A favorite refrain of many Canadians when it comes time to select the national Olympic team is that the country could easily compile two full rosters that would be competitive.

Unfortunately for Canada executive director Steve Yzerman and his management team, that is a luxury they simply didn't have, and the players who were not named on Tuesday to Canada's team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics will likely be a bigger source of debate than the ones who did.

Yzerman's 25-man roster was finalized after midnight Tuesday morning, less than 12 hours before it was announced to Canadians and the rest of the hockey world. But he and his management team comprised of St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Edmonton Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe had a job prior to that announcement that was considerably less pleasant.

"The calls this morning to the guys that weren't making it, those are real difficult calls," Chiarelli said. "It kind of leaves an empty feeling in your stomach."

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