Is there pressure for Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team to win gold on home ice in Vancouver?
Of course, but that doesn’t mean the Canadians are the only team expected to stand atop the podium.
“Will there be a parade in Moscow if the Russians win silver? Probably not,” said Canadian executive director Steve Yzerman on Saturday. “Every player plays to win. It's nothing unusual. When you were a young boy or girl playing in tournaments, it was all about winning. This situation is no different. The expectations and the hopes are for gold, but they are for seven other countries as well.”
Almost from the day Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in July 2003, just over a year after Canada ended a 50-year drought by winning gold in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Games, fans and hockey experts have been speculating about potential rosters – seven years of mounting expectations.
Throw in the fact that Canada finished seventh at the last Winter Games in Turin and has lost the last two IIHF World Championships to Russia, and it’s a gold-or-nothing attitude in Canada – not that it wasn’t before.
But Yzerman doesn’t see that being an issue for the 23 players who will wear red and white in Vancouver.
“Our players are used to this,” he said of the Olympic-sized pressures. “They've played playoff series after playoff series, year in and year out. The situation is no different. It's just on a much bigger scale.
While Canada’s players will begin to trickle into Vancouver on Sunday, the majority won’t arrive until Monday, with only a Monday afternoon practice before the Olympic opener against Norway on Tuesday night at Canada Hockey Place.
The players, like the rest of Canada’s athletes, will stay at the Olympic Village in Vancouver, inside what Yzerman called the ‘Olympic bubble,’ keeping them out of the media spotlight for at least some of their stay in British Columbia.
“We know that hosting the Games on home soil means distractions, but we want to minimalize those distractions,” Yzerman said. “Hockey Canada’s plan is one that allows the players to focus on hockey, and allows the families to enjoy the Olympic experience, and take that worry away from the players.”