Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is happy that Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk were asked to be part of Team USA’s roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but he is worried about what they’ll be like when they get back.
“If we want to be selfish about the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Carlyle told the Toronto Star, “sometimes those things don’t work out the way you’d like them to work out because we know they’re going to another level of hockey, the highest level at the Olympics. Coming back to here after, sometimes the emotions are flat. Some people don’t have anything left.”
Carlyle said he saw that from Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Scott Niedermayer when they returned to the Anaheim Ducks after winning the gold medal with Team Canada in 2010.
His concerns speak to a larger issue about the potential impact the Olympics might have on the battle for the Stanley Cup. The biggest concern is that a star player suffers a serious injury during the international tournament, but fatigue — emotional or otherwise — could also prove to be a problem, especially when you factor in the timezone difference that comes with playing in Sochi, Russia.
That being said, because the Olympics will involve the star players of every team, all 30 squads are basically in the same boat. That’s especially true when you keep in mind that those that don’t participate in the games will have to wait around for a couple weeks and potentially get rusty. So in the end, every player might be impacted to varying degrees.