Good morning from Sochi. Just waiting around for all the practices to start today. Slovakia’s on the ice soon (minus Zdeno Chara, who’s not arriving until later today) and Switzerland’s later. The NHLers don’t fly over on their charters until Sunday.
Thought I’d share a few pictures of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, where most of the men’s games will be played, including the gold-medal game on Feb. 23.
That’s the outside, obviously. I took this a couple of days ago when the Olympic Park was practically a ghost town. The electronic music they had blaring over the park’s speakers made it feel like I was in some sort of dystopian movie, or possibly a zombie one.
The Bolshoy Ice Dome’s capacity is listed at 12,000, but it’s probably going to be slightly less for the Olympics, just because of all the media seats and camera areas that take up much of the lower bowl. It was the same way in Vancouver four years ago.
The other, smaller hockey rink (capacity listed at 7,000) is called Shayba Arena.
The United States will play a couple of games here in the preliminary round, including its opener on Thursday versus Slovakia.
Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.
On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.
But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.
The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.
Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.
Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.
Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”