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Islanders' Tavares not distracted by Olympic talk

by Dan Rosen

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders captain John Tavares hasn't spent much time worrying or thinking about trying to make the Canadian Olympic team this season.

"I don't think it's been about what do I have to do to be there, what am I worrying about, what are they watching me do out there?" Tavares said Monday morning from Nassau Coliseum. "The thoughts have been about excitement and what it would be like to be there, not so much the pressure or what I have to do to get there."

That line of thinking makes sense considering Tavares is likely a lock to be on the roster that will be revealed by Hockey Canada on Tuesday morning in Toronto. The feeling has always been that as long as Tavares played well and stayed healthy he would be selected to play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.


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However, the mystery (if you want to call it that) will have to remain a mystery until at least Tuesday morning.

"I haven't heard from anybody [from Hockey Canada], so I know as much as you guys do," Tavares said when asked if he has spoken to any of the Canadian Olympic team executives or coaches.

Regardless, Tavares, who leads the Islanders with 46 points in 42 games, is expected to be one of the centers Canada takes to Sochi. Whether he plays center at the Olympics remains to be seen.

Tavares has moved to the wing at other international tournaments such as the IIHF World Junior Championship, World Championship and Spengler Cup. He also played the wing for SC Bern of the Swiss National League A during the lockout last season.

"I've got a lot of experience there," Tavares said.

There isn't much debate when it comes to Tavares' candidacy for the Canadian Olympic team. However, Islanders coach Jack Capuano said you'd never know how much Tavares wants to play for Canada in the Olympics judging by the way he goes about his daily business in New York.

"As a coaching staff you look for those things, but John has had singular focus," Capuano said. "His main concern is how he approaches the game, the player he wants to be in this League, the fact that he wants to win and put this team on his back. I haven't seen anything as far as the Canadian Olympic team or any distractions from him. He's just a true professional in the way he approaches himself every day to get better. That's why he's the leader of our team."

Tavares, though, admits he has thought about the Olympic team more in the past couple of weeks than at any other point in the season.

"There's been a lot more coverage and suspicion is building," Tavares said. "I'm sure after the game [Monday night] and [Tuesday] morning I'll be very interested. Obviously I'm looking forward to it.

"It would be an absolute thrill," he later said. "It's been a goal of mine. I think I've put myself in a position to be there."


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