Hitch says ‘it’s going to be different’ with larger ice surface in Sochi

5 Comments

The larger international ice surface. Some believe it will be a major factor at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Some disagree, calling it much ado about, well, maybe not nothing, but not as much as some people are making it out to be.

It sounds like you can put Ken Hitchcock in the group that believes it’s a big factor. It won’t be like an NHL game over there, according to Team Canada’s associate coach.

“Size isn’t as relevant as it would be in a [game on a small ice surface],” Hitchcock told NHL.com. “We’re going to play against quicker players than we ever have played against before. We’re going to play against players that have great agility, great one-on-one skills. We’re going to see lineups that are different than we would play in North America.

“The game in Vancouver [2010 Olympics] was very much an NHL game. It felt like an NHL game and it looked like an NHL game, but it’s going to be different in Europe because we’re going to play against more quickness, more agility than we have ever seen in our lives.”

How the bigger ice surface affects Canada’s roster decisions remains to be seen. Hitchcock’s comments wouldn’t seem to bode well for a player like Boston’s Milan Lucic, a big, physical winger not known for his beautiful skating.

And what about a defenseman like Chicago’s Brent Seabrook? Like Lucic, he’s big and physical, but he doesn’t skate like, say, PK Subban.

Once all the rosters are set and the tournament starts, it will be interesting to see the difference in style compared to 2010, when Canada was able to employ a punishing forecheck, led by the likes of Brenden Morrow.

On paper, the Americans seem suited for a fast game, with excellent skaters like Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, and Ryan Kesler, to name just three.