In case you missed it, National Hockey League players will once again be participating in the Winter Olympics.
This time it’s in Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Games. Canada enters the competition having won gold in the both the women’s and men’s ice hockey events in Vancouver four years ago.
And at the top of the podium is where people across Canada – and from all walks of life – want the Red and White to be standing when next year’s tournament is over.
Of course, Sidney Crosby, who scored the game-winning goal against the U.S. in Vancouver, is likely to lead Canada’s hockey team in a few months time. He knows what’s at stake.
It’s also worth mentioning that after winning gold at the 2002 Olympics, the Canadian team fell flat in Torino, Italy, and placed a disastrous seventh place.
“I think when you play for Canada, that’s the expectation,” said Crosby, as per the Pittsburgh Penguins website.
“I have never been to Russia, (but) obviously everyone knows the history with Canada-Russia in ’72 and ’87 and the list goes on and on. I think that right there, having the opportunity to play hockey in Russia is pretty special.
“But with the Olympics in general, I think that just being Canadian, you realize pretty quickly that people come together at that time of year especially. When it’s hockey, even more so. So I think yeah, you want to go there and find a way to win gold.”
If you’ve followed high-end 2013 NHL Draft prospect Nathan MacKinnon’s story at all, you probably know that he comes from Cole Harbour, Novia Scotia, just like Sidney Crosby.
It might as well be the first line of any scouting report for MacKinnon.
The budding star didn’t distance himself from the connection, telling The Star that he owes a lot to the 25-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins captain.
“He didn’t know if he could (make it) being from a small town,” MacKinnon said of Crosby. “For me, I looked at him, and said if he could do it, I could do it as well. He paved the way for kids from small towns.”
Still, MacKinnon said that Crosby is “on another level,” so he needed individual moments to feel like he belonged at the highest level of competition.
“The first time I realized I could make it, I went to Toronto when I was 9 or 10 in tournaments,” said MacKinnon.
“You kind of realize you can play with those guys. I was doing well against Toronto kids. You know their track record. That’s when I figured I could play. I know I was young but I got focused on the NHL.”
The Boston Bruins have frustrated Sidney Crosby through the first three games of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals.
One would assume that part of the plan is to put a body on the Pittsburgh Penguins captain. Daniel Paille left the star a little shaken up after this hit, which some probably believed was interference penalty-worthy:
The good news is that the 25-year-old seems just fine. In fact, he’s arguably been more dangerous in Game 4 on Friday than he’s been for much of this series.
Of course, it could also be because the Bruins decided to match Zdeno Chara against Evgeni Malkin instead …