After a long flight back from Sochi, Ted Nolan was on the ice in Buffalo on Friday to lead the Buffalo Sabres in their first practice in two weeks.
Nolan said he arrived back in Buffalo at around 6:30 p.m. Thursday night and didn’t get much sleep before the team’s practice Friday morning at First Niagara Center.
Zemgus Girgensons, who played for Latvia under Nolan in the Olympics, did not skate, but spoke with the media after practice about his experience. The 20-year-old center said he was proud of what Latvia was able to do in his first Olympic Games.
“We believed in ourselves since the first day we got there and even before, just looking at the paper, I knew that’s the best team Latvia probably has had in a long time,” Girgensons said. “I was hoping we can accomplish something good.”
He likely won’t practice for the next few days as he adjusts to the time change and rests up for the rest of the NHL season.
Nolan said he thinks being around some great players on both Latvia and other teams will be extremely beneficial to his development.
“We had some pretty good leadership on that team so Zemgus being around that, being so young, I think [for] his growth, it’s almost like adding another year on to his experience,” he said.
Despite going 0-3-0 in the preliminary round, Latvia was able to defeat the Swiss in the qualification match to advance to the quarterfinals. They played a tight game against Canada, falling 2-1 on a goal by Shea Weber in the third period.
“The way Latvia played, you could tell they were playing without fear and they were competing,” Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers said. “That’s exactly what Ted asks for you and you could tell Ted was the coach of that team.”
Despite some injuries and risks that have taken place during the tournament, like a season-ending one for John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Nolan believes that the opportunity to participate in the Olympics shouldn’t be passed up.
“I think it’s worth it. You can get hurt walking across the street and slipping on a piece of ice. Those things happen,” Nolan said. “And to say the event is one of those events you don’t want to take a chance, I think it’s worth every chance there is because it’s a world event, it’s a world-class event to showcase our game.”
Myers, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick, who were all injured prior to the break could all be ready to go when the team faces the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Myers said Friday morning that he’s back and set to play. Moulson declared himself as day-to-day with a rib injury. He sustained the injury on Jan. 30 in Phoenix.
“I’ve never had a dislocated rib, but that’s what it felt like at the start,” Moulson said. “But luckily it wasn’t that. A little time off came off came at a pretty good time if there ever is a good time right before the break. Lots of time to rest it, so it’s feeling good now.”
Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth are still in Sochi. Nolan said either get the start Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes but will wait to make a decision.