Next week marks the start of the one-year countdown to the ice hockey competition at the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, where Steve Yzerman, the Red Wings' vice president, is the executive director of the Canadian men's team.
It's going to be a year away now, and I think the last time we talked it was a lot further. Have you thought much about the type of team, the style that you want your team to be playing in 2010? And with that the kind of players you'll be looking for to play that style?STEVE YZERMAN:
Yeah, well, to start out very broadly, I think with the depth of talent that we have, as do the other teams considered to be medal contenders, we expect to play a well-balanced game. We're going to have good offensive players. I expect us to be a solid defensive team, and I've found -- and I think everyone would agree -- whether you're a Stanley Cup champion or an Olympic champion, balanced teams, teams that can play on both ends of the rink. So that's what is going to be really important in assembling this team is not only can we attack, we can defend. So that's going to be the No. 1 thing in putting this team together.
A style that we'd like to play, again, I don't expect to be a run-and-gun, and we're certainly not going to sit back and be strictly sit in a trap and wait for the other team to come. We've got to defend, we've got to attack. Two things I'll really stress is the ability to play at a high-tempo when the intensity picks up. When the atmosphere in the building picks up, the tempo picks up, and players got to be comfortable playing at that, so I want a team of players that have the ability to play at a high-tempo. And that doesn't always mean the fastest skaters, it's guys who can think quickly and make decisions and move the puck quickly, as well.
The other thing to that is I want us to be a team that wants to play with the puck, particularly against these really strong European teams. We don't want to give the puck away. It's hard enough to get your hands on it or get your stick on it. So I'd like to have a team that can skate, pass the puck, move it around but is good in both zones.Q:
So you want a team like the Red Wings?YZERMAN:
The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup last year, and I really believe you look at (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Brian) Rafalski on defense just to name a few of the guys, excellent in both ends of the rink, and I think that's what gave our team an advantage last year was the ability ... they were just so strong on both ends, I think.
To say the Red Wings play a puck-possession game, well, they do because these guys are so good they've got the puck a lot and they hang onto it and they don't panic. Yes, we'd like to play -- and that's trademarks of championship teams -- so that's what we're trying to put together.Q:
A couple things. One is how much of your time are you devoting to this enterprise in conjunction with other duties with the Red Wings?YZERMAN:
Well, with the Red Wings I don't necessarily have a specific job description, and I've tried to really be around the hockey team as much as possible as far as watching. I'm not a member of the coaching staff, but I stay involved, pay attention to what's going on, offer my input when needed.
And then with the business side, I try to stay involved and on top of things, more so for a learning experience for me on how a professional hockey team is run.
You know, I think with the Olympic program I watch a lot of hockey, whether it be traveling with the Red Wings or at Red Wings' game, and focusing particularly on players on other teams that are guys we're watching to keep in mind for the Olympics, traveling with the Red Wings to watch some games, and well, and then traveling a little bit on my own to catch the occasional game when there's a match-up of teams that both have a group of potential Olympians on them.
And then also I get the ability to watch on TV at home. Hockey has become somewhat of a six- or seven-day-a-week job for the time being. But the good thing is being in position with the Red Wings and having the Zetterbergs, a lot of European players that will in all likelihood be in the Olympics and being a good team, I get the chance to watch Canadian players play against our guys a lot, and these are the guys that will play in the Olympics. It's a great indicator of their ability, what they can and can't do.
You know, I'm spending a lot of time watching hockey these days.Q:
Just in following that, up here in Canada with a year to go, it's being talked about on television and radio and newspapers. Are you getting that, too, or are you shielded from that a little bit? Are you aware that it's a year to go and people are picking teams?YZERMAN:
You know, through the Internet and all, obviously you get a lot, and I get forwarded to me a lot of articles on all aspects of the Olympic program. You know, I'm aware that in the U.S. and not getting the Canadian radio stations you're shielded a little bit from a lot of the talk that's going on. But between the Internet and TV, I certainly hear a lot of it. Actually to me it's a good thing that people are interested. Around hockey I love sitting and listening to people's opinions on who should be there and who should be coaching and this and that and just sitting and listening. More information is good.
But down here certainly in the States, people know the Olympics are a year and a half away, but in the American cities they're more concerned with their own club, their NHL club, than the focus on that. So being down here a little bit you're not in the midst of it as much. Q:
A couple things: One is what is your feeling about a, per se, checking line, or are you intending to have your skill players pretty much interchangeable and playing both ends of the rink? The other thing would be .. well, if you could answer that one first I'll get to the other one in a minute.YZERMAN:
Well, I believe, and I look at the players available to us -- the Canadian players -- I believe every player, every forward in particular if you're talking checking line, has the ability to play in that role. I don't want to leave off a goal-scorer or a guy who's a scorer or a power play guy who kills penalties to bring a guy who's a designated third-line checker. To me that doesn't make sense, because I think we have the ability to take really good players. Now, they're not all going to be able to play on the power play, so it's important that you're comfortable in other ways.
And this is where the coach comes in and the coaching staff whene sit down together and discuss all of our visions on how this team is going to be put together. Every coach has a little bit different idea on his match-ups. Some guys will like to designate one line as -- the term shut-down line has become popular. If that's the case, then we'll assemble a line to be used that way, but with the intent to use it that way. But to me the best defensive lines are guys on both ends of the rink that can do it, smart offensive players, good defensive players. They just have to apply themselves.
My idea of a checking line for Canada's Olympic team are three guys that are excellent on both ends of the rink and they're dangerous that way. Today it's not my intention, but it could change depending on the availability of players' health and whatnot, but my intention, any kind of defensive line is going to be made up of guys that have the ability to play on the other end of the rink, as well.Q:
Are you almost forced by events that are happening right now to take a longer view of your goaltending situation because (Roberto) Luongo is not having a particularly good year, (Martin) Brodeur has been hurt, Carey Price is having kind of an uneven season; a lot of guys that you would have thought would have been bang, bang, bang would be giving you pause at the moment if you had to pick the team right this minute. Do you have to kind of take a career view of this or a longer view?YZERMAN:
Yeah, not so much a career view, but certainly take into account a broader group of goaltenders, just with the injuries to Roberto and Martin this year being out, if this happens next December, obviously that brings in different goaltenders. So it really reinforces to me and to our group, it really enforces we have to be out there and know these goaltenders, know all these players for that matter. I think going back to '06 they had some injuries just before the tournament and had to bring in a couple different players. That situation just reinforces that we really have to be out there, not just watching the guys that many consider obvious, but there's some very, very good players, whether they're younger or haven't been in the league a long time that people haven't considered, or guys that have been around a while and for whatever reason their team has become more prominent and their names have become more prominent.
Again, it just reinforces the fact that we have to be watching and we can't just take into account next fall our 13 forwards our seven D and three goaltenders. We've got to be prepared to make a decision next fall based on availability and who's playing well at the time.Q:
Could you update us on anything going on with the coaching situation right now?YZERMAN:
Well, again, our plan is to name the coaching staff shortly after the Stanley Cup finals have been completed. Kevin, Kenny, Doug, myself, Johnny Misley met in Montreal in early December to put together a watch list, I guess I'd call it, of players, and at that time we had a general discussion on Canadian coaches around the league, potentially even anybody we thought would be suitable or be a guy that we should be talking about. We put together a group of names that we think out of this group will probably ... the coaching staff will come.
For the time being it's much like we're watching the players. We're trying to find out as much information as we can for us individually to go out and gather as much information and find out what we can about maybe some of the coaches. Kevin might be more familiar with someone than I am. It's up to me to go out and formulate my own opinion, and really, again, know the people we're talking about, know the people we're interested in and know their strengths and weaknesses and their personality so we can put a group together. I think the coaching staff has to be a cohesive unit, has to be a team, and the personalities have to match and their skills have to match and complement one another.
What we're doing in the meantime is watching games, watching teams play. If we would have talked a year ago, there's some coaches in positions that they weren't in at this time and maybe wouldn't have been a guy that you would have brought up as consideration. Things could change a year from now or even six months from now, three six from now. You know how precarious the system is.
We're letting the season play itself out. I want to make sure when we name the coaching staff and going into the Olympics that the coaches themselves are in a comfortable position within their own; whether they're coaching the NHL or whatnot, comfortable that they can focus 100 percent on preparation and when they get to the games that they're not distracted by reasons outside of the Olympics.Q:
Quick question: The NHL and the Players' Association have agreed to participate in the Olympics only through 2010. Would you want this to continue through 2014? I know you could have two different viewpoints on it because as a Red Wings' executive you might not want your players to go travel to Russia in 2014 and have to deal with that time difference, but obviously there are benefits to the league and for the game if the NHL players do participate. Have you thought about that at all?YZERMAN:
Yes, I have a lot, and playing in the Olympics in '98 and 2002, being a part of it for '10, I hope that the NHL, the players association and the IIHF reach an agreement that the players continue playing. I think it's great for the game. Again, this is my own personal opinion: I think it's great for the game. On a worldwide stage it is the biggest event for hockey and the biggest event for us to showcase our players. So to me I think it's important that we remain in it, and I think all the attention that it gets, and players want to play in it, we try to do everything we can to try to stay involved.
I understand the issues with it being in mid-season. A lot of times maybe it's not the best thing for the National Hockey League as far as when games are televised, all these other issues, shutting the season down midway, but every four years to take a break, I think it's good for the league. I think it's nothing but a benefit and a positive regardless of which team wins the thing. So I would support our continuing participation.Q:
Perhaps you might have answered this question earlier on, but I wanted to ask you about players that I guess you're quite familiar with Dan Cleary. I know he's logging a lot of minutes with Detroit. Mike is using him in a lot of critical situations when you guys are protecting leads late in the game. Would there be any consideration given to a player like Cleary in a fourth line support role, kind of like Mike Peca in 2002?YZERMAN:
Possibly. You know, I'm going to try and stay away from specifically discussing any individual player. But possibly. I'm not prepared today to say this player is definitely not in consideration or this guy is definitely on the team. It's far too early. Players' level of play can change a lot throughout the course of the season, let alone between this season and next. Dan has been a great, valuable player for our team and playing all three forward positions and the ability to move up the lineup or down the lineup. He's been a real good player for us, so I wouldn't rule out him, or really there's a long list of players that, again, I just continue to watch and make sure I believe I really know them, what they can do and what they can't do, and when the time comes put together the best group of players.Q:
Canada has a lot of depth at center. Seven guys off the top of our heads are on the list from (Sidney) Crosby, (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Vincent) Lecavalier, (Eric) Staal, (Marc) Savard, (Jeff) Carter, (Brad) Richards, even (Jonathan) Toews. How comfortable are you with having players play out of position? And the second part, could you see as many as seven centers possibly making the team?YZERMAN:
Seven is a lot. Definitely Canada has had good success, and I'm sure all countries have had good success with players playing out of position, not only centers, but you'll have some wingers maybe shifting from one side to the other, as well. I've debated that a lot and talked to hockey people about it all the time. I guess my feeling on it right now is good players, truly good players with good hockey sense, can play any of the forward positions.
I'm not adverse to moving a guy in. In reality that will happen with one or two centermen. But one thing I think that is important in keeping in mind when you do that, it's important to have guys who are natural wingers, who played the position their entire career, pick up some of the nuances of playing wing; it's just the real simple things like the ability to pick a puck off the boards in your own when D is pinching up against you, where to stand, where to go. There's little things that if we have very good wingers, I would hate to leave off a top winger to move a centerman over.
But I think in all likelihood, you mentioned seven, I'm sure there's other names if I pulled out a list of names in front of me. Seven might seem like an awful lot, but I would expect that there would be at least one guy playing out of position.Q:
I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit more about the role Doug Armstrong is playing on the 2010 management team.YZERMAN:
First of all, Doug and I worked together at the previous two men's world championships, and we talked regularly throughout the course of the last two years, and he's been a great asset for me and a great kind of a guy as far as being a former general manager in helping me in the decision-making process. And I've found his player assessment to be very good. He's been very enthusiastic.
I thought it was important for me to have somebody that's ... we watched a lot of particularly the younger players the last two years. We've watched them together closely and have a good understanding of what they can and can't do and who they are. I thought it was important for me to have him on the staff for continuity just as we move forward. And then when he was a general manager at the world championships, we had debates with Bob Nicholson and Johnny Misley, we had debated what role I would play at the world championships. I felt I wanted the freedom down the stretch here and into the playoffs to not only watch the Red Wings and be around that, but also to focus more on potential Olympians as opposed to watching a lot of guys that were possibly being selected for the world championships.
It just allowed me a little bit more freedom. It gives Doug the opportunity to work with a lot of the younger guys that we'll be watching for the world championships and guys that will potentially make it on that Olympic watch list or that are on it. Anyway, we just felt it was good for continuity. He's been there for a couple years.
So his role, along with Kevin and Kenny and myself, we're watching players. We're going to do this as a group and put everything together. But two years working with me at the world championships, I thought it was very important. He's put a lot of time in and studied the players, and another set of eyes and another opinion is good for our group.Q:
Just one other question. Do you believe at this point in time that it's going to be an all-NHL team? Do you expect there would be any possibility of someone who's not in the NHL actually making the Canadian squad at this time?YZERMAN:
Based on the players we've watched to date, unless an NHL player were to go and play on one of the European leagues next year, I don't see anyone making the Canadian team from outside the NHL.Q:
Can you tell me about how you guys go about sharing information and keeping information on the players after you scout them amongst yourselves and even just for your own reference?YZERMAN:
Well, again, everybody is a little bit different in how they like to scout or retain information, so we sat down in early December and talked about do we want to put together or do you want to scout or do you want to make reports, whatnot, file reports and things. In our discussions, me, I'll jot down notes and whatnot, but it's a small group of players, and we thought, you know what, just go out and watch.
We continually talk. We talk on a regular basis just about players. Our list isn't super long, and it's really over an 18-month period that we just sit down and quite simply watch games and we talk about players, and as we move forward, we'll get a little bit more specific into what role a guy is going to play, and once we get a coaching staff in place, talk about potential roles as far as line combinations and whatnot.
For the time being, we watch games and we will watch as a group. We'll get together in March again, go over our list that we have, fine-tune that, address that a little bit, talk about the players and make sure we really understand it. But mostly it's a lot of discussion at this stage, whether it be through email or on the phone. Q:
You referenced that March meeting. What sort of things do you look to accomplish there, just a general chance to sit together and update what you think about specific guys?YZERMAN:
Yeah. Again, we sat down while we were in Ottawa in early November I think it was, maybe October. We were in Ottawa. At that time we went over kind of our itinerary or our schedule of events from then on and selected December as a time to get together. Let's let the season get underway, let players settle in, get comfortable, then we'll get together as we did in December. Let's put together a preliminary list of players that we think have a chance to be on this team. We did that in December, put an informal list of potential coaches together.
Now between December and March, it's really a chance to look at that list. You're not familiar with a player, you don't know him that well, go out now and let's really watch him. And at the same time players are popping onto the radar screen that are having better years that in early November there's a handful of guys we hadn't really thought that much about or hadn't discussed a lot. Again, we'll get together in March, really talk about the players, what we don't like in that list potentially. It'll be fine?tuned a little bit and names may be removed and names may be added to it.
But again, it's just a reference point and good for our discussion, and when you're out watching games it's something good to look at to pay attention that really forces you to go out and watch these guys that you might not know too well. Our March meeting, again, we'll fine tune that and make sure we are prepared. Our next step after that would be to name the coaching staff and meet as a group to kind of finalize a list from that watch list, finalize an invite to an orientation step in August.Q:
Every year the NHL seems to get younger and younger, a lot of 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds are carrying big weight with their teams, and next year John Tavares will probably be joining the league. Do you think any Canadian team will probably have any player 20 years or younger on it?YZERMAN:
I wouldn't say absolutely not. I think just one name and again, I'm trying to avoid names, but Drew Doughty is a tremendous player out in Los Angeles, an 18-year-old. A lot can happen down the stretch here and a lot can happen early next season. I think some of these kids, just because there's so much depth in front of them, they're going to have to be pretty exceptional to be on the Olympic team. There is a chance, but in all likelihood, and again, without having my list right here in front of me, off the top of my head, in all likelihood there probably won't be a teenager on it. But I'm certainly not afraid; if a young kid merits a spot on the team, he's going to be there.Q:
When do you have to start naming players?YZERMAN:
Well, our plan is, again, to have an orientation camp in mid-August with the decision to wait until the end of Stanley Cup playoffs to put a coaching staff in place. Shortly after that I'd like to sit down with the coaches, show them the players we want to bring to camp, let them have some input, and then shortly after that place the invitations and obviously put our list out there. I want to get that out as soon as possible after the season just to give the players time to prepare for camp. A lot of guys have a lot of different commitments going on in the off-season. We got the announcement out early that we're having this camp, so anybody with the desire and intention to play on the Olympic team knows that we're having a camp the week of the 24th of August. If we can roll that list out right around July 1, then the players will know. So that's our real first important list, I guess. Q:
You have a unique situation being there in Detroit, seeing some of the best Russian and Swedish players playing there day in and day out. How often do you kind of watch those guys and think, scouting their obvious skills and think, Canadian-wise what do I have as an answer for Team Canada to that kind of specific player and how can we beat those kind of teams?YZERMAN:
Yeah, I think it's been an advantage for me and it kind of makes it a little bit easier to schedule and to watch games is that with Datsyuk and Zetterberg and (Marian) Hossa and Lidstrom, a bunch of these guys, they're going to be on their respective countries' Olympic teams. They're playing together here.
Sunday I was in Pittsburgh. I got a chance to watch Sidney Crosby play against Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Playing against top players, it's the best way I can measure some of their players' abilities and things they can do and their strengths and what they're real good at. So it's a great way for me to watch games is just following our team around.Q:
When you are this close to the process of selecting a team, can you still honestly say that you don't miss the playing side of things? And the second part of the question, whose counsel did you seek out shortly after you got this job, and was there a danger in your mind of maybe getting too much advice?YZERMAN:
I'm trying to think of the first part of your question. No, definitely the more I get involved in these management type roles, the more -- I haven't missed playing at all. The only time I really thought about playing was recently at the world junior championships when Canada won the gold medal, and being up in the stands and watching, I was pretty envious of those young kids out there at that time knowing that there's nothing like winning, nothing like being on the ice in that type of atmosphere. No, I really don't miss playing at all. I really enjoy being part of an organization, and I really like watching hockey. It's been a great transition from player into management.
Now I'm trying to think of the second part of your question if you can repeat that.Q:
Shortly after you became in charge of Team Canada I was wondering whose counsel or advice you sought out initially, and was there a danger in your mind of maybe getting too much advice from people?YZERMAN:
Well, immediately, first of all, Wayne Gretzky, his title is senior advisor, and he's somebody I talked to immediately about it and exchanged emails with and had a chance when our team was in Phoenix for the All-Star Game to talk to him about the role and things. He's there for me any step along the way, regardless of the issue, to give him a call. He's lived it for two Olympic games, so he can really steer me in the right direction.
Bob Nicholson, obviously the president of Hockey Canada, he's been through this a lot, is somebody I can get a lot of advice and ask a lot of questions from. Again, he's been through this several times.
And then just having Kenny Holland right now -- Kenny, Kevin, Doug -- and I've thought a lot about the people I'd like to put on the staff. I didn't make any decision on a whim, and they're all there at least for me for specific reasons, Kevin being there in the past in the Olympics, can be there on a day-to-day basis with us as far as all of our calls and all of our meetings. His reference from previous Olympics is very important to me. Doug has worked with me at world championships in the last two years, as I had spoken about earlier. And having Kenny there as a successful, experienced general manager, a guy who's constantly thinking of how to put a team together, a talented group of guys and whatnot, just his experience over a long time, he's kind of the senior guy in our management group, was really important to me.
I like to talk to people, I like to ask questions. The one thing and the danger of getting too much advice is I believe -- and I think there is some danger in that -- I believe that I listen to people and I like to talk about it, but at the end of the day I've got to make some decisions and I've got to have my own idea of what I want to do regardless of what we're discussing. But it's good to gather as much information as I can. You get different opinions and different viewpoints, but then I've got to sit down and think about it and make a decision at that time.
You do have to be careful. You gather your information, you sort through it and then have to be prepared to make a decision.Q:
I've got two quick questions: First of all, I know you said you didn't want to talk about names specifically, but I want to ask you about the goalie position and what your philosophy is in naming the top three goalies. I think it's pretty obvious that the top two are going to be the best two goalies in the game, whether that's Luongo or Brodeur you can touch on if you like. But specifically the third goalie spot, would you like to see that being the third best goalie, however you quantify that rating, or would you give that to a younger goalie? The third goalie usually doesn't play, somebody who can just be there to learn and who you anticipate possibly being there if they're playing in 2014?YZERMAN:
Well, the first thing I take into account, and it's still relatively early, but these are all the things that you're sitting there thinking about all the time. The most important thing is if you have to use three goaltenders, if you're in a position that you need that third goaltender to play, you'd better be comfortable that he can go in there and get the job done. So I think ideally having a young guy with the mind that -- that keeping in mind that he's maybe our designated guy for the future, future Olympics, we want him here for the experience -- I think there's a lot of merit in that, as long as you're totally comfortable that he's the right guy going in there if you need him to go in there if for whatever reason one and two, you're moving away from that.
No. 1 is you'd better be comfortable with him going in. I like the idea of a young guy getting the experience, being in that role. Again, if that guy is available, if such a goaltender is ready to go and we're comfortable enough that we can put him in the net if we need him, I'd kind of like to go that way. But if we have three really, really good ones on top of their game and that third one happens to be a veteran guy, it would be tough to pass that up or move by that. But I think there's a lot of merit in bringing someone young.Q:
Were you or are you in favor of playing the Olympics this year or next year on the smaller NHL surface, and how do you think that will change the tournament from years past?YZERMAN:
I guess this is the first one I believe back in Calgary in '88 I think it was, they expanded the ice at the Saddledome. I don't mind it on a smaller surface. I really enjoyed playing in '02 on the big ice surface. Now with the new rules and no lines, no red line, bigger end zones, I think on the arena it's 200-by-95, it's a bigger ice surface, a bigger playing surface, and the game is more like the European game now.
At the highest level with the best players in the world, I like the game on the international ice, but I don't think it's going to detract one way if anything, it may add to the excitement on the smaller surface. To me I don't feel strongly about it one way or the other. I don't believe the smaller ice surface is an advantage for North American players because Europeans have played so much on them; the majority of players have played their entire junior career in North America. I don't think there's an advantage to it. It does change the game a little bit, but I don't know that it's better or worse on a smaller surface. Q:
Just a couple things: No. 1, how important do you think it's going to be for the guys to kind of shield themselves by being in the Olympic Village? We all heard about after you guys lost to Sweden in 2002, a lot of the players didn't understand or know about how many people up here were panicking at the time. You're not going to be -- because it's in Canada you're not going to be able to be shielded completely from it -- but do you think this can work as an advantage for you guys?YZERMAN:
Yes. You know what, I just think for convenience sake, it's the best thing for the players to be in the Olympic Village. There's so much going on in the two Olympic games that I participated in, there's so many people in the city it's hard to get a cab, it's hard to get anywhere, security is tight, it's hard to get a dinner reservation, that honestly it was -- and you're playing so many games in a short period of time. All you're doing is it's a lot like the playoff series in that you're eating, sleeping and playing, and that's all you really have time for.
When guys get on the road, in this case get into the Olympics, all you really want to do is prepare for your game, play the game, get some sleep and get up and go to practice the next day and do the same thing over again. I found it really convenient and kind of peaceful at the Olympic Village. You had every convenience you needed as far as physical therapy, your meals whatever time you wanted them at. We had meeting rooms for the team. It is a tremendous advantage.
For the players themselves, there's not a lot of free time to think you're going to go to the Olympics and catch this event and catch that event. There's just not a lot of time between your own games, your own schedule, the difficulty to get from one place to another. As simple as you can make it, it's better. And for the players, I'm not really concerned with them being shielded from anything. It's all stuff they've dealt with in their own careers. Maybe not to this level, but it's really the same thing, and these are things they're just going to have to deal with.
To answer your question, I think that it's very convenient and it's worked out really well, and the players want to be in the Olympic Village. They enjoy the experience. We really like being a part of the Canadian Olympic team, talking to the other athletes, meeting them. It's something the guys really appreciate. Q:
And I guess the second part of that, and you talked about them not being shielded from this, you and I have talked about this before, but every year Canada goes into it there's the expectation for gold, but this time it being on home soil and such, it's almost like gold are bust in the minds of people here. It arguably is going to be the most watched television program in the history of the country will be your games on TV. Is it the mindset that you want your guys to have, look, we can't settle for silver, it's gold or nothing?YZERMAN:
Well, I mean, that's the way it was in '98, that's the way it was in 2002 and '06. We got one gold medal out of the three. I think everyone has to realize and accept the fact that in these tournaments, one-game elimination, anything can happen. You know, that's what makes winning so good is that it's a hard thing to do, and you're not going to do it every time. I'm hoping things align and are right for us this year.
But the players, everybody understands, we're going into this tournament, and really, the Russians think the same way. The Swedes are thinking the same way. They're going into this tournament thinking, 'hey, we want to win the gold medal. We're the best team, we're the best country.' They're not intimidated by Canadianhockey now, if they ever were. And they've proven they can play at this level and sometimes beat us.
Our players want to win, and that's nothing that changes. For the guys that play around the league -- the guys in the Canadian cities experience it on a daily basis, I think, and that's everywhere they go their team is talked about, everything they do it's talked about. A little different playing in the U.S. because the cities are so big and there's other things going on. You're not as scrutinized as you are as you are ... our players feel and I felt as a player you go into a Canadian city it's exciting. It's a lot of fun, and that will be magnified at the Olympics, but it's still the same type of thing.
I'm not terribly concerned about the players. Certainly once they get on the ice they're going to have to be able to control their emotions, control their adrenaline, not get overwhelmed by the situation an just go out and play. But the expectation is for gold. That's no different than any other Olympics.
And like I said, these other countries are going in there with the same mindset. They don't care it's being played in Canada. They're going in there to win.