February 27, 2006(TORONTO) --
Congratulations to Mats Sundin and Mikael Tellqvist on winning a gold medal with Sweden, Aki Berg for winning a silver medal with Finland and to Tomas Kaberle for taking home a bronze medal with the Czech Republic.
The 2006 Olympic break has come to an end and the NHL resumes action Tuesday night. The Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre, but here's a look at how all the Leaf participants performed at the 2006 games in Torino.
|Tomas Kaberle is all smiles after receiving his bronze medal. |
Mats Sundin, Sweden
The captain for Sweden, Sundin always plays well for his homeland and he finally was able to win a big tournament. In Salt Lake City he was one of the top forwards in the tournament, this time he wasn't as dominate but he was still as tough as ever playing with Freddie Modin and Peter Forsberg. Sundin had eight points, second on the team but the Gold medal is what Sundin wanted heading to Torino and that' what he got.
After the game, Leafs fans were able to see Sundin beaming from ear-to-ear with that Gold medal around his neck.
"It's a nice relief," Sundin said. "We have known for some time that we've had a talented enough team to win gold. For us older players playing probably in our last Olympics, it was great to put it all together."
Sundin announced that it indeed was his final Olympics but the memories of winning will be better than the last time in Salt Lake City when the lasting image was of him on his knees in disbelief after losing to Belarus. It was a great reward for a great player, who unfortunately doesn't get the accolades that he deserves.
Mikael Tellqvist, Sweden
In the last few years Sweden's goaltending had let them down in big tournaments and the starting netminder wasn't going to be decided until the first half of the NHL season. That wasn't good for Tellqvist as he was the backup to Ed Belfour while Henrik Lundqvist was the starter with the New York Rangers. Tellqvist saw action in one game in the Olympics allowing three goals in a loss to Slovakia. Winning a Gold medal as the backup will be something that he will cherish forever and could be the man in 2010.
Tomas Kaberle, Czech Republic
After signing a contract extension before the Olympics started, Kaberle was not only the best Czech defender but he might have been the best defencemen in the entire tournament. His strong skating, ability to carry the puck and great passing skills were evident on the much bigger ice surface. Kaberle had three points in eight games. He was the leader of the Czech defence and it will be interesting to see if his play in Torino will benefit the Leafs in the last 25 games of the season.
Aki Berg Finland
While he might not be the most popular Leafs defenceman, Berg played a very steady game for Finland and was one of the top defencemen on the team. Although he didn't record a point in the tournament Finland didn't need him to put points on the board, they were more then happy with his defensive play. If he can bottle that play up and continue it with the Leafs, fans will be more then happy to cheer him on.
Pat Quinn Head coach Team Canada
Canada was expected to come away with the Gold medal at the Olympics but that wasn't the case this time around. Quinn and the coaching staff tried to change the lines and defensive pairings but they couldn't find the right combos. He wasn't the one who couldn't capitalize on the power plays it was the players such as Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Dany Heatley etc. who couldn't put the puck in the net. Quinn probably won't be back in 2010 but he did win 2002, which may take the sting out of losing in 2006.
Bryan McCabe Canada
It was hard for the Leafs blueliner who logs 30 plus minutes in the NHL to play every five or ten minutes and without a regular partner. With the Leafs, McCabe has great chemistry with Tomas Kaberle. Not having a regular partner to learn tendencys of really hurt McCabe. Canada's power play struggled throughout the tournament but McCabe didn't see a lot of time on the man advantage something that he excelled at in the NHL.
Nik Antropov Kazahkstan
This was the first time Antropov took part in the Olympics for his native country. The lanky forward recorded one goal in six games. The experience should benefit the Leafs forward not only with the Leafs but also down the road when he gets another chance to represent Kazahkstan.
With the next Olympics four years away in 2010, future and current Maple Leafs will be looking to take home the Gold medal for their native countries, but now it is all about the final playoff push and a Stanley Cup.