Penguins captain Sidney Crosby held a conference call with media this afternoon to discuss the Olympics primarily. Here is a partial transcript:
On the Olympics being finalized:
"I think like everyone thought, it was a matter of time of working out logistics. With it being held in Russia, I’m sure there was a little bit more work to do. Glad that we’re going. Obviously excited to start the process."
How do you foresee the bigger ice surface in Russia impacting the play of this tournament compared to the smaller rink used in Vancouver in 2010?
"It’s definitely a different game. It’s a little bit more of a puck possession game. There’s a lot more time with the puck. I think making decisions and things like that - the way you play, your systems – there definitely going to be an adjustment there. I think speed will be even more important with that big ice. Obviously physical play is always important but I think with the bigger ice, it’s probably going to be a little bit tougher to establish that. I think speed and skill will be a bit part of that game."
Have the past three years since the 2010 games gone by fast?
"It’s gone by really fast. Obviously with injuries and stuff like that too, it wasn’t like there was three full hockey seasons to look back on. It’s definitely gone by quick. It’s exciting. With it being announced that we’re going and knowing there’s going to be an Olympic training camp, you’re going to begin that process with the schedule. You usually find out quickly that an Olympic year schedule is a little more condensed and a little more condensed than a typical year. I think there’s always a lot of anticipation for it."
What’s important about playing a condensed NHL schedule during an Olympic year?
"You have to take advantage of your days off because it is condensed. Playing that condensed schedule and then going into a pretty intense playoff atmosphere [of the Olympics]. Every game is like a Game 7. Obviously coming back from that too, you basically go from being at that level of intensity [for the Olympics] to regular season games. There’s definitely a period of time where you come back and … you’ve played those intense [Olympic games] …. You’ve got to find a way to keep going and maintain that same level through the rest of the season and hopefully the playoffs."
What do you make of the Penguins now being in the Metropolitan Division?
“Is it really? Really? What does that stem from? … I didn’t know that. I don’t know what to think. I liked the Atlantic. I’m from Atlantic Canada. It kind of had a good feel to it but I can deal with the Metropolitan Division. It’s going to take some time to get used to but I can live with that.”
Will it be awkward playing against any of your Penguins teammates or even your head coach, Dan Bylsma, in this tournament?
"I’m sure it will be brought up either by us or someone else. It always seems if there’s any uncomfortable situation it seems to be brought up pretty quickly and we make a joke about it. I think that having gone through it having played [Evgeni Malkin] previously and even [Brooks Orpik] with Team USA, that’s just something we understand that it’s all a part of it. But yeah, it’s a little different when you’re walking though the athletes’ village and you’re looking at your teammate walking by and he’s on a different team. That being said, we all know that’s a part of it. We try to have some fun with it through the year but when we get there, we all know we’ve got to represent our team."
How is your health?
"Healthwise, I feel really good. It’s actually a pretty short offseason this year with everything being pushed back because of the lockout. Trying to make the most of the summer and get ready for next season."
Have you given any thought at how Team Canada’s roster could shape out?
"I have no idea to be honest with you. There’s definitely been some young guys who have had some great years. A guy like [Islanders forward John] Tavares had a great year. A lot of other young guys too. That being said, I think a lot of that has to do with the first half of this year. That’s going to dictate a lot. Everybody always talks about different combinations and possibilities. With Canada, there’s so many guys who could play for that team. The first half of the season will obviously have a big bearing on that. We’ll see who starts well and gets those opportunities."
How important is it for Canada to repeat as gold medalists?
“I think when you play for Canada, that’s the expectation. I have never been to Russia. Obviously everybody knows the history with Canada-Russia in [the 1972 Summit Series] and [the 1987 Canada Cup]. The list goes on and on. The opportunity to play hockey in Russia is pretty special. But the Olympics in general … I think being Canadian, you realize pretty quickly people come together that time of year, especially when it’s hockey. You want to go there and find a way to win gold.”
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)