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NHL players can't get enough of London Olympics

by Brian Compton

With another month to go before training camps are scheduled to open, NHL players have to find ways to pass the time. Of course, exercising is one way. But many players have become enamored with the 2012 Olympic Games from London, England.

Players from across the League have been expressing their excitement via Twitter in recent days.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Matt Read (@MReader24) watched Sunday's dramatic table tennis match that saw American 16-year-old Ariel Hsing nearly upset China's Li Xiaoxia, a favorite to win the gold medal. Hsing took Xiaoxia to the limit before losing the best-of-7 match in six games: 11-4, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9.

"This ping pong match is crazy," Read tweeted Sunday. "I don't think I could return a serve."

Players from across the NHL have expressed their excitement over the London Olympics via Twitter in recent days.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) -- who has competed for Russia at the Winter Games -- has been awfully busy in London, where his girlfriend, tennis player Maria Kirilenko, is competing. Kirilenko is the No. 15-ranked female tennis player in the world and won her first-round matches in both the singles and doubles tournament, which means Ovechkin -- who has been mainly tweeting photographs -- will likely be sticking around in London a bit longer.

"me and maria near the olympic stadium!!! had a gr8 time!!," Ovechkin tweeted Sunday, along with a photo of himself and Kirilenko.

Other sports are receiving attention from NHL players too. Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Jones (@jonesry28) has become fascinated with water polo.

"Speaking of crazy sports...Water Polo! You mean their feet aren't touching bottom?" Jones wrote via Twitter. "Treading water and getting punched in the face.. awesome!

"These swimmers are insane.. If they had a 10M doggy paddle event there is a chance I could compete. #stillnotlikely," Jones added.

Wojtek Wolski (@WojtekWolski86), who recently signed a deal with Washington, spent some time watching his country compete in women's volleyball. Wolski was born in Zabrze, Poland, before moving to Toronto.

"Watching the Polish volleyball team dominate right now. #polishpride #olympics #volleyball," Wolski wrote.

Steven Kampfer (@SteveKampfer47), who appeared in 13 games for the Minnesota Wild last season, was cheering on the American female volleyball players.

"The USA women's volleyball team is sick. Sending absolute missiles to Brazil out there. #Olympics," Kampfer tweeted.

Indeed, the admiration NHL players have for these Olympians from around the world appears to be at an all-time high. Chicago Blackhawks forward Jamal Mayers (@jamalmayers) couldn't believe what he was seeing while watching some gymnastics.

"I have a new found respect for all gymnasts! ESP Team USA women! WOW! #mental&physicaltoughness," Mayers wrote.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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