Returning from the Winter Games Monday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Lightning's Martin St. Louis and Sami Salo returned to the ice Wednesday despite head coach Jon Cooper saying they did not have to report to the team until their plane left for Nashville this afternoon.
"By no means was this a test," Cooper said. "But they wanted to get out there and be with their teammates. You can't have enough of those guys around and that's probably a reason we are where we are in the standings because we have a bunch of guys like that in the locker room."
As a handful of other players reported good conditions in Sochi – everything from accommodations, the scenery, security and cleanliness – they also exceeded expectations for St. Louis' and made for an experience he will never forget.
"The way we heard about it before going, I was a little worried," St. Louis said. "But all-in-all it was a very easy Olympics for an athlete."
St. Louis said that winning a Gold Medal "meant a lot," but that the journey to winning the highest prize on an international stage was what really made the trip that much more special.
"It feels like it's not just a victory for me, but my family and everyone that's helped to put me in that position to win a Gold Medal," St. Louis said.
Now spending just a short amount of time with his wife and boys, where he got to do what he mentioned he was looking forward to doing, showing them a Gold Medal, St. Louis heads on the road with his teammates a little tired as he tries to readjust back to being North America.
"It's 9:30 p.m. for me right now," St. Louis said Wednesday around 12:30 pm. "Your whole eating clock and sleeping clock makes it tough. My emotions as well. I'm happy I got to skate today to get some of that stuff out of my system and get ready to play an NHL game."
"It's not like those two guys are 21-years-old," Cooper said. "They have been in this league a long time and for them to come nine time zones away and jump on the ice within 24 hours it's impressive."
Skating for the first time in nearly two weeks on an NHL rink was also a somewhat new experience for St. Louis, saying the ice felt a lot smaller than what he was used to as of late.
With the team departing for Nashville St. Louis did not bring his medal to show off however, catching a few laughs as he said he didn't want to misplace it.
ST. LOUIS CALLS GUDLEVSKIS A 'BATTLER'
Before Team Canada's quarterfinal game versus Team Latvia coaches asked St. Louis for a pre-scout on netminder Kirsters Gudlevskis.
Not knowing much besides what he saw from him in training camp, St. Louis was left with a very different impression after Canada squeaked out a 2-1 win over Gudlevskis and Latvia.
"I told him he did a great job," St. Louis said. "He battles, is a big boy and has great legs. He made it a little harder than what we wanted, that's for sure."
OTHER ODDS 'N ENDS
- Anders Lindback wore a regular jersey Wednesday after wearing a red, no-contact jersey thus far. If he will be able to play tomorrow remains up in the air, meaning all three goalies (Ben Bishop, Gudlevskis, Lindback) will be on the four-game road trip.
- Matt Carle, Valtteri Filppula (non-displaced fracture in right ankle) and Tyler Johnson all practiced on Wednesday. While Cooper said he expects the three to play Thursday, barring no other setbacks, Cooper did not comment further on the three prior to leaving for Nashville.
- Mike Kostka skated for the first time with the Bolts since being claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks.