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Canada would prefer to skate, but can't

by Dan Rosen

CALGARY -- The one thing missing from Canada's three-day Olympic orientation camp is actual hockey. The players will not be taking the ice as they have in previous camps because of the prohibitive cost of insuring their NHL contracts.

It's actually a bummer to some of them even though it's August and NHL training camps won't open for another 2 1/2 weeks.

"Unfortunately we're not going to be going on the ice, which is a shame a little bit," goalie Roberto Luongo said, "but the fact that we're getting together just gets us excited for what's down the road here."

Executive director Steve Yzerman said he understands the reasoning behind not skating, but he would have preferred to have that component at camp. At the very least it would have given the 46 players in attendance a legitimate foundation for what to expect should they be among the 25 players selected to go to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"For me, anytime you can get on the ice together, as much as you possibly can, whether it's in August or February prior to the Games, it's beneficial," Yzerman said. "This is obviously a very important event. We'd like as much preparation time as possible. Going back to 2010, we said it was really the one opportunity for the players and coaches to get on the ice and go through what they were going to do. Maybe the coaches get a little bit of a feel for certain line combinations, just to get a quick peek over a couple of things in practice, and to have the Red/White game to kind of go through an exhibition game, to go through what they've been talking about for two or three days, that they've been practicing the power plays, penalty killing, forechecking and whatnot.

"We don't have the luxury of doing that on the ice."

Instead the players will have meetings and watch video to go over the terminology and the systems Canada will be using in Sochi. They'll have walk-throughs to get a feel for each.

"We're going to ask them to go to Sochi walk into a dressing room, shake hands, and try to go out and literally fight, try to win a championship for their country in hostile territory, where the Russians are trying to do the same thing," said Kevin Lowe, who is part of the Olympic management team for a fourth straight time. "You can never underestimate camaraderie, relationships. It's unfortunate we can’t go on the ice, but we'll accomplish a lot here."


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