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2014 Olympics

Canada players started process without ice time

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 10:37 PM / 2014 Olympics

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Players couldn't step foot on the ice at Canada orientation camp this week, but those in attendance at Markin Macphail Centre in Calgary took their first steps toward defending Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

For coach Mike Babcock, who was at the helm when Canada won gold four years ago in Vancouver, camp was about developing and establishing a three-step process for Olympic hopefuls in 72 hours.

"They came here for three simple things," Babcock said. "No. 1 was to get to know everybody better, from players to coaches to management to trainers, to get to know them and have a comfort level.

"No. 2 is to understand the details of how we're going to play: terminology, where to stand, how to play in your own zone, how to play on the power play, penalty kill. We've gone over and over that. The walk-throughs made it slow enough to really spend some time on it.

Sharp longs to add gold medal to Stanley Cup title

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 10:00 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

CALGARY -- How badly does Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp want to make the Canada Olympic team?

"The Stanley Cup obviously was a pretty big accomplishment in Chicago, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of that organization to win it again," Sharp said Tuesday night at orientation camp, "but playing internationally for your country, especially defending the gold medal, would be something that is amazing."

So, to qualify what Sharp means, is he saying that making the Olympic team would mean more to him than winning the Stanley Cup?

"That's like saying who do I like better, my wife or my daughter?" said Sharp, whose wife, Abby, is expecting another daughter in early October. "It's two things that would be incredible accomplishments. I'm jealous of [Brent Seabrook] and [Duncan Keith] and [Jonathan Toews]. They were able to win the Cup and the gold in the same year [2010] and I certainly want to be a part of that and I'm going to do whatever I can to make the team this year."

Canada overflowing with Olympic talent at center

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 5:10 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

CALGARY -- Steve Yzerman won't do it, but the option is available to Canada's executive director.

The fact Yzerman could select at least 12 centers to be on Canada's Olympic team says all anybody needs to know about the depth the country has at the position.

"For other teams maybe it's wing or maybe it's [defensemen], but with us everyone seems to talk about center ice," Sidney Crosby told NHL.com. "But a lot of the guys have played different positions, and if they have to play wing they'll be comfortable there."

They'd better be, because that will be the case when Canada gets to Sochi, Russia, in February for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Yzerman told NHL.com on Tuesday he will not be taking 12 centers, but he all but guaranteed some natural centers will have to make the team as wings.

Olympic experience makes U.S. big five solid leaders

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 4:00 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It can be difficult for a hockey team playing in an international tournament to develop some sort of identity because of the lack of practice time and condensed nature of the schedule.

The United States team at the 2010 Winter Olympics did coalesce well and play a consistent brand of hockey. One of the reasons was great goaltending from Ryan Miller, but another was the common ground found in the skill sets of a lot of the team's top players.

David Poile, the general manager for the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Olympics, named his leadership group at the 2013 U.S. National Team Camp, and those players were a critical part of that group from 2010 that found some measure of an identity.

Predators past and present rooming together

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 3:32 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Someone with the 2013 U.S. Men's National Team Camp management team has a fine sense of humor.

How else to explain that Ryan Suter, the one-time franchise defenseman for the Nashville Predators, spent the three nights of the camp sharing a room with Seth Jones, who is the franchise-defenseman-in-waiting for the Nashville Predators?

By the way, David Poile, the Nashville general manager, also is the general manager for USA Hockey for the men's team at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

Quite the coincidence, no?

"I was probably a little bit surprised and [Suter] said he was too. It's kind of weird," Jones told NHL.com. "With Poile being the GM here, it might have been set up."

Battle for No. 1 job shows off U.S. depth in goal

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 9:07 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. -- With less than six months until the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, there are many questions about Team USA that must be answered. Judging by the first day of availability with the 48 players invited to the 2013 U.S. Men's National Team Camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, none is more pressing than the identity of the eventual No. 1 goalie.

Virtually every player who arrived in the mixed zone on Day 1 of the camp was asked about the team's goaltending. Fortunately, the questions were about the position of strength from which the Americans appear to be operating and not about the deficiencies of the position.

Six goalies were invited to this camp, and all six boast impressive resumes. Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is the returning starter who led the United States to a silver medal in Vancouver four years ago. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup two years ago. Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators has been among the most consistent goalies in the NHL during the past two seasons.

Jimmy Howard has played well enough to take the starting job with the Detroit Red Wings after a considerable apprenticeship. Cory Schneider, traded to the New Jersey Devils in June, long has been considered among the game's best young prospects. And John Gibson, the youngest goalie at the camp, may not have reached the NHL yet, but the Anaheim Ducks prospect has starred at the World Junior Championship and World Championship levels.

Guerin predicts big things for 2014 U.S. Olympians

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 7:51 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Four years ago, Brian Burke went into overdrive to tamp down expectations about a skilled but young American team that arrived in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic tournament.

Burke, who picked that team and knew just how good it was, did his customarily excellent sales job, and the United States snuck up on a few established powers on its march to the gold-medal game. Unfortunately for Burke and his charges, the story ended poorly; a heartbreaking overtime loss to Canada in the gold-medal game.

The defending silver medalists officially began the road to Sochi as 48 hopefuls gathered at the Kettler Ice Center for the two-day U.S. Men's National Team Camp, the first step in a long journey to the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The list of players will be whittled down to the 25 who will be chosen to take the ice in Sochi and determine their country's fate in the most important international hockey tournament of them all. That team will not fly under anybody's radar.

Chemistry could make Kunitz, Crosby Olympic pair

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 7:46 PM / 2014 Olympics

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- If coach Mike Babcock is looking for candidates to play on Sidney Crosby's line in Sochi, Chris Kunitz is ready to be first in line to apply.

After all, it's worked well for the pair as members of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 33-year-old followed up a career-year in 2011-12 by finishing seventh in the NHL in scoring last season, amassing 22 goals and 52 points 48 games while playing primarily on Crosby's left wing.

That familiarity could give him a leg up on the competition.

"He knows the way I play," Kunitz said. "I don't try to change too often. I just try to get to the areas on the ice. He's the guy with the puck and making the plays. He believes in me and has the confidence you're going to be in the areas, it's going to work well for you. I'm going to keep my game almost simple but also go to the areas on the ice that make us successful when we play together."

Canada's starting Olympic goalie job up for grabs

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 7:16 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

CALGARY -- Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith joked that the five goalies on the floor were the best players during Canada's ball hockey-style walk-through workout at its Olympic orientation camp on Monday.

Even if that were actually true (the goalies didn't do much at all, by the way), it wouldn't make the decision facing Canada executive director Steve Yzerman and coach Mike Babcock any easier.

Goaltending historically has been an area of strength and continuity for Canada at international tournaments, going back to Ken Dryden and on to Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. Those days are gone, and the competition for Canada's goaltender at the 2014 Winter Olympics is as wide-open as it has ever been and filled with far more questions than any other position.

The answers will come over the course of the first three months of the NHL season as the evaluation process plays out and the schedule enhances the chances for some and weeds out others. But for now there are five goaltenders in the orientation camp who all legitimately have a chance to become Canada's starting goalie on Feb. 13 when it opens the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, against Norway -- Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford and Smith.

Walchuk earns unique experience at Canada's camp

Monday, 08.26.2013 / 6:03 PM / 2014 Olympics

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- With roughly $1.5 billion worth of players under contract participating in a walk-through practice at Canada's Olympic orientation camp, there was no shortage of star power in Calgary.

But it was an unknown that was the biggest attraction on the floor.

Former Spokane Chiefs and University of Calgary Dinos forward Dylan Walchuk wound up an emergency substitute for Joe Thornton, who was unable to arrive at camp due to a family matter.

"[It's] like a dream come true, kind of," said Walchuk, who found out late Sunday night he'd be participating. "I don't know, it was sweet just seeing those guys on TV all the time and getting to play with them. They're all good guys. It's an experience I'll never forget."

Walchuk's Dinos helped Canada's coaching staff prepare for their walk-through by participating in one of their own. When Thornton wasn't able to join his fellow Olympic hopefuls in Calgary, coach Mike Babcock summoned the 21-year-old.

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