Patrick Kane, Jack Johnson, Ryan Suter and friends like Team USA’s prospects in Sochi. (Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• “This time it’s different,” said Patrick Kane, who insists that Team USA is heading to Sochi expecting to win the gold medal. Hey, it’s not being cocky if you can back it up. Just ask Seth Jones.
• Phil Kessel was a bit player when the Americans won silver in 2010. This time around, he’s ready to be a difference maker.
• “We can’t take all six of ‘em over there,” Kane said, referencing the biggest (and nicest) problem facing the Team USA staff: figuring out which three goalies to take to Sochi.
• “Sometimes it’s hard to dream as big as this,” said Blake Wheeler, one of four Jets players in camp with Team USA.
• “It’s been the toughest thing to get over in my career,” said Paul Martin, who missed the 2010 Games with a broken arm. The 32-year-old defenseman knows that this is his last shot to make the U.S. team, and the pressure is clearly weighing on him.
• One of the heroes of the U.S.’s 1996 World Cup triumph says that the 2014 version of Team USA will be the best ever. Not sure I’d agree. The team will be deeper for sure, but it will also lack the depth at center (with such players as Pat LaFontaineMike Modano and Doug Weight) that the ’96 team had.
• Eight years removed from the debacle in Turin, Canadian officials won’t overlook the impact of that big ice will have on the game.
• Team Canada coach Mike Babcock came up with the idea for the world’s most intensively covered ball hockey game after getting some advice from an unexpected source.
• Could Alex Pietrangelo’s contract situation with the Blues damage his Olympic aspirations? The defenseman is one of those players that’s in virtually everybody’s top-six, but if he misses camp because of a holdout, all bets on him making the roster for Sochi will be off.
• Graying, but not slowing down, Martin St. Louis is in prime position to snare a spot with Team Canada. One of the few natural wingers in camp, and still plenty quick, he’s a good bet to make the final roster.
• Gary Lawless writes that while Sidney Crosby is likely to wear the C for Canada, the team in Sochi will belong to Jonathan Toews.
• “Every Canadian kid would die to do this,” said Dylan Walchuk, the University of Calgary star who subbed for Joe Thornton in Team Canada’s drills yesterday. And you have to love Babcock — he sits the kid next to Crosby in the dressing room.
• At least one Olympic hopeful skated yesterday. Jason Spezza hit the ice in Ottawa with one eye on Sochi and the other on getting ready for a comeback season with the Senators.
• The Russians held an event on Monday to reveal their Olympic jerseys, which to be honest, kind of suck. Oh, and Alex Ovechkin dodged the gay-law question … for now.
• Did CSKA really offer Bluejackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky $10 million a year to bolt for the KHL over the summer? Bobrovsky said that the NHL was a better career option, but I’m thinking any gig that offers to pay you ten freaking million dollars offers a pretty solid career path.
• Contract talks are heating up in Vancouver as the Sedin twins enter the final season of their current deals. They’re saying all the right things, but Iain MacIntyre thinks they would be crazy to stay.
• 32 veteran officials met up in Switzerland with an eye on grabbing one of the 14 jobs available for Sochi. Couldn’t have been much of a camp if they didn’t spend an hour running up and down a dry rink calling violations in a pretend ball hockey game.
• The eternally upbeat Ralph Krueger isn’t upset about being blindsided when the Oilers fired him as their coach. It probably helps that he landed a sweet gig with Team Canada.
• Cory Schneider is ready to leave the Vancouver drama behind and get the new season started in New Jersey.
• Former Nashville good-time guy Alex Radulov managed to have his captaincy stripped by CSKA for disciplinary reasons. Wait, they have bars in Russia, too?
• Things are a little bit different in Dallas than when Jamie Benn left town after the season ended in April. Mike Heika grills the potential captain of the Stars on his summer, his injured wrist and his expectations for the revamped team.
• Good news for St. Louis. Winger Vladimir Tarasenko says he wasn’t in good shape last season, and promises he’ll be ready to go this time around.
• Hurricanes forward prospect Sergei Tolchinsky has the Sept. 5 rookie camp game against the Rangers circled on his calendar. Here’s why.
• Sounds like a mini-Lindros situation brewing up in Nova Scotia, where forward Nicolas Roy, the number one pick in this year’s QMJHL draft, is refusing to report to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.