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The Team Today: Olympic Reflections

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


The Oilers conducted another off-ice workout and one-hour practice Sunday morning before giving the players the rest of the day to enjoy the Olympic gold medal game between Canada and U.S.A.

One player with a unique perspective on the high-profile game and the event as a whole is Denis Grebeshkov. The 26-year-old Oiler manned the blue line for Team Russia in Vancouver, and experience said was "awesome."

"It was my first time in the Olympics and I've never experienced that before. I've been in a few World Championships but it's way different. It's not just about hockey, it's about every other sport and there's a bunch of different athletes. It was fun."

Grebeshkov's Olympic journey came to an end February 24 when Canada defeated Russia 7-3 in the Men's Hockey Quarterfinals.

"I guess we pissed them off really bad for the last few years, but at the same time they deserved that win," he recalled. "They played really good, they were excited to play against us. I knew they wanted to beat us so bad.

"They came out really aggressive. Like someone said, gorillas came out of the cages. At the same time, we did score three goals in that game and we had a few more opportunities to score, but Canada played a pretty good defensive game and Luongo made a few saves."

Now that the Olympics are coming to a close, Grebeshkov has turned his focus to Edmonton's next game: Tuesday night's battle vs. the Predators in Nashville. When asked if Wednesday's NHL trade deadline is weighing on him, the easy-going defenceman said he "doesn't even want to think about it."

"There's nothing you can do -- it's not in your power so I don't want to be concerned," he explained. "Whatever happens, it's going to happen and there's nothing you can do."

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Dan Tencer


The Oilers continued their post-Olympic break practice schedule with an hour-long skate at Rexall Place Saturday morning.

Sam Gagner took to the ice with the team for the second consecutive day, and Head Coach Pat Quinn said he is hopeful the young forward will end three weeks on the injured list by dressing Tuesday night in Nashville.

"He still has some discomfort but not nearly what he was experiencing earlier on," Quinn said. "I haven't talked to him since he skated today but he seemed to move well out there, and if he's saying that he's going to play then that will be what happens."


Like their fellow hockey fans, the Oilers are anticipating an exciting Olympic gold medal final between Canada and U.S.A. Sunday afternon. With his extensive international resume, Quinn shared his thoughts on the nerves and butterflies Team Canada will experience tomorrow.

"It will be an incredible day of excitement," the coach said. "As a fan, I'm just anticipating great hockey, great competition. And if I was in a coaching or playing position, then you think of it different ways.

"I'd try not to be scared, try to be really prepared and have all the information for the players about themselves and the others. You will have reviewed your line matches and everything 100 times over as a coach, and then calm your own butterflies, because they'll be there for everybody in that organization. I don't care how veteran you are, they're going to be there at the start.

As for what he'd like to see from Team Canada, Quinn kept it simple.

"As a Canadian, looking at our team and how they've improved every day, all I would hope for them is that they continue that improvement," he said.

Author: Jen Sharpe |


After a tough morning of post-Olympic fitness testing, the Oilers took to the ice Friday for the third straight day of practice. With the next regular season game still four days away, the international competition in Vancouver continued to dominate talk in the locker room after the skate.

Vancouver native Gilbert Brule spent a few days in his hometown during the Olympic break and was impressed by the celebrations.

"It was insane downtown -- I was down there a lot. Robson Street is just all shut off, along with the big streets. It's just shoulder to shoulder people and a great atmosphere."

Along with catching a medal ceremony, Brule witnessed teammates Denis Grebeshkov and Lubomir Visnovsky face off against eachother in the Russia-Slovakia men's hockey game. When asked who he rooted for, Brule played it safe.

"It's just like whoever wins, wins," he said with a smile.

But Brule showed his true colours when asked about Friday night's Canada-Slovakia semi-final game.

"I think Slovakia's going to surprise some people but obviously I think Canada's going to win."

Fellow forward Ryan Potulny agreed that Slovakia has been a surprise and said he's cheering for Visnovsky to do well against a strong Canadian team.

"The games are very competitive and some of the teams surprised some people I think too," Potulny said. "Hopefully Lubo does good. It's good for him. What an experience to play in the Olympics and to go this far. It's good to see and I'm happy for him."

Not as happy as he'll be if the U.S. faces Canada in the gold medal final, however.

"There's a lot of pride in the game," he commented. "As you saw the first time that they played, I think both teams have some pride and I think Canada was taken aback a little by the U.S. beating them. They've came out in these last two games and they look pretty strong, so I think maybe they've got going now."


Ethan Moreau missed his second consecutive practice Friday morning, and Head Coach Pat Quinn later confirmed that the team captain has reaggravated a neck injury.

"He's still having trouble with his neck that he has been fighting all year long," Quinn explained. "He quipped it again apparently before practice yesterday, so our medical staff has kept him out to see if we can quiet it down. It is the same injury that bothered him earlier in the year -- just a reoccurrence of something going on in his spinal area in the neck."

Quinn expects Moreau to play Tuesday night in Nashville.


Friday's practice marked Sam Gagner's first appearance on the ice since injuring his knee February 6 in Colorado. After the skate, Gagner made a special appearance at a Boys & Girls Club in Edmonton to announce a donation of $5,000 in sports equipment courtesy of Nike.

After signing dozens of autographs and talking with the kids, Gagner grabbed a hockey stick and fired a few pucks on net in the gym.

Sam Gagner plays a bit of hockey while visiting the Boys & Girls Club in Edmonton Friday, February 26, 2010.
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