A Triumphant Return
The Ducks' seven Olympic medalists returned today for practice with the team and some time with the media
Tuesday, 03.02.2010 / 8:17 PM / News
It was back to business for the group, with gold medal game adversaries Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan skating together once again on the first line. Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu returned to their customary spots on the second grouping while Scott Niedermayer and Ryan Whitney re-joined the rest of the team’s defensemen on the blue line. With the successful Olympics officially complete, they turn their attention to the final 20 games of the regular season and a playoff race that sees the Ducks two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Following practice, all seven players adorned the jerseys of their country one more time and the medals each had won for a special photo shoot on center ice at the arena. Here is what the players had to say during an extended media session.
It’s starting to sink in. The last 24 hours here have been pretty hectic. We had a long plane ride yesterday and got back into the rhythm today with the boys. It feels good.
On feeling pressure to win the gold medal in Canada
The pressure comes from everywhere. It’s in our lives throughout our whole career. I’ve played in many games for Canada. That is one of the biggest stages I’ve played. We had pressure on ourselves. We were there to win a gold medal and were able to pull it out.
On having bragging rights
I think we do I guess. It’s not one of those things that you’re going to go and rub in anybody’s face. Everybody played well. Anaheim should be proud. We came back with seven medals, which is pretty impressive for our group. We’re pretty proud to be a part of this locker room where we have seven guys who are holding medals.
On coming together as teammates again
It’s easy. It’s hockey. We do it all the time and it’s a part of being professional. We have guys get traded and come in our locker room late all the time. Now that we’re back here, it’s going to be back fun playing together.
On the mentality going forward
We’re not really coming off the high. We have to stay on that high right now and keep the same hockey we were playing. We’re going down the stretch run where we have to start playing playoff hockey right now and get ourselves in a playoff spot.
On the comparison between winning a gold medal and a Stanley Cup
It’s tough. Playing for your country is one thing and definitely real close to your heart. But playing in the NHL, you’re playing in the best league in the world. Both were tremendous highs for me in my career so far.
On the comparison between winning gold medals and Stanley Cups
I can’t really compare them. They are both very important. I’m glad I have been able to do all the above. This was different than all of them and a lot of fun to be a part of.
On winning the gold medal on Canadian soil
That was the difference. It’s a lot of fun for all the athletes. For the hockey players to go compete in a tournament like that with the best players representing their countries, it was a fun thing to be a part of. To be able to do it in our home country and win it there, it’s pretty special for sure.
On his trophy case
I’ve been lucky. I’ve played with a lot of good players. This one was unique though. You remember all of them. This one will have its own memories for sure.
On being the captain for the Ducks and Team Canada
I didn’t think too deeply about it because if you do, maybe it would start to put too much pressure or expectation on yourself. When I was asked if I would be willing to be the captain of the team, I said ‘Yeah, I will do my best’” That is the approach I took. It ended up working all right. I didn’t think about the questions or pressure that would have been on if things didn’t work out. I never really thought about that. It was an honor, no doubt it, to be the captain of a Canadian team in Canada.
On bragging rights
It is good because some of the Americans here reminded us that they had won some other tournament this year, like the World Junior Tournament and the under-17 tournament. They figured they were going to have all the trophies if they had won that game as well. They are keeping score. If they are going to bring that up, then we’ll just have to remember this one as well.
On if the loss to the Americans helped in the gold medal game
We learned from all the games. We talked a lot about the first three games being important, but at the same time, if you lose you’re still going to get an opportunity later to make up for it. We had to get better. The American came out and played well right from that start of the tournament.
On his goal in the gold medal game against USA
Patrick Marleau drove the net pretty hard and I was just lucky enough to there to gobble it up. I made a quick shot. You have to bury it in those situations. You don’t get too many chances like that. I made a shot and it found a way.
On the feeling when USA tied it with 24 seconds left in regulation
It was probably the longest last five minutes of a game I’ve been part of. Sitting there watching the clock tick away, it felt like forever. They worked hard for that goal. You have to give them a lot of credit. They never stopped. Down 2-0, they kept coming. We walked into the dressing room for that 15-minute intermission. We talked about just being on our toes, staying on the forecheck and staying with our gameplan. It didn’t sway us.
On Scott Niedermayer
He is huge to a team, especially there. He was that leader and led by example. He did everything he could to help us. There were a lot of guys in that room that were leaders on their team and it really showed in that tournament.
On quickly coming back to the NHL
It’s going to be tough, but that is your job. You have to put it behind you and move forward. We can reflect about it a little later down the road in the summer time. It was a great experience, but now it is back to reality. You have to go out there and do everything you can do help your team win here.
The games and pace were quick. If you can keep that intensity level up and bring it back here, it’s just going to help everybody else here who weren’t a part of the Games. Everybody is going to play that much stronger and harder.
On having both an Olympic gold medal and Stanley Cup on his resume
There are not too many guys that can say that. It’s special. I’m only 24 and have won Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup. Hopefully, there is more to come. Sometime down the road, there will be time to reflect on all of that.
On playing eight of the next nine at home
It’s nice. That is great. We’ve been on the road for a little while now. It’s nice to come home and just relax. Some home cooking is always special.
It was an awesome experience. Getting an Olympic medal is always huge and it was a great tournament.
On seven Ducks getting medals
It’s unbelievable. We have great players on this team. We were very happy to be playing for our countries. Seven is pretty good for one team.
On coming together as teammates again
We are all good buddies. When we put the skates on and play against each other, there are no friends out there. But it’s time to get back for the Ducks. We have a mission to do here. It’s good to get back in the NHL.
On quickly returning to the NHL after the Olympics
We want to make sure that we’re going to be ready right away. Emotionally, it was a big tournament for so many guys. We just have to make sure that tomorrow we are going to be ready and have a good start. That is really key.
On the playoff race
We should win a lot of games with so many good players. It’s very tight right now. Lately, we have played really well. That is all that really matters. We’ll try to build the momentum through the playoffs. Of course, we have to first get there.
I really liked how the team was playing before the Olympic break. We just have to pick up where we left off and good things will happen.
It’s always a special feeling to win a medal at the Olympics. When I started 16 years ago as a 19-year-old young man, you thought it was going to be easy and you’d get a chance every time. Now, at this point in my career, you really appreciate a chance to be there and play in the medal games. Winning again, makes it a pretty special feeling. If this was the last game for me and Teemu as members for Team Finland, then it was a nice way of finishing it.
On Finland medaling in hockey for the third time in the last four Olympics
We’re not a very big country, but for some reason we can always play well as a team. In these tournaments – in Nagano (’98), Torino (’06) and this one – we said we were underdogs and nobody really expected us to do well. For us to finish third and look at teams behind us with a lot of talent, it’s something to be really proud of.
On the playoff race
The key for teams that want to make the playoffs right now is to have a real strong first two weeks and find their rhythm again. You can have all these medal guys on this tea, but if we don’t show up and start competing well together, we’re not going to make it. At the same time, we have to realize if we put the little pieces together and start playing well as a team, we have enough talent to really do well. It’s really up to us to find that team chemistry.
On getting so close to winning a gold medal
It was tough. We played well and fought right to the bitter end. That is all you can ask. It’s a short tournament and you’re getting used to everybody. Guys were playing a different role than they were used to. I enjoyed every moment of it. To come that close was heartbreaking.
On accepting the silver medal
I’ve already gotten to that place. It was only a couple hours after the game where you realize it’s the last night you have with the guys. We had a dinner and put it away pretty quickly. We enjoyed what we did accomplish. We were a team that went in hoping for a medal and not picked to even be in the mix. To almost run the table is a pretty remarkable thing.
On coming together as teammates again
There is not a lot of turnaround time. I was right back on a line with those two (Getzlaf and Perry) today. It doesn’t feel like we missed anything. That is the beauty of hockey. We competed against each other and probably had a few words. That is about it. We’re back and go to battle here.
On the playoff race
We’ve got some work to do and I don’t think that is lost on any of the guys that won a medal. We had Anaheim in our thoughts throughout the entire time. We have 20 games to catch up some ground. I think we’ll be okay.
We can control our own fate here by winning games. We have a lot of games at home and came back knowing that. We’re comfortable playing in our settings. We have to take care of a few on the road. We’ll work out some kinks tomorrow that I’m sure guys picked up over two weeks off in Hawaii or wherever they got to go. It shouldn’t take too long though. We’re looking forward to the run.
On the feeling when USA tied the game with 24 seconds left in regulation
I can’t even really describe it. The whole bench just started jumping up and down. You’re screaming stuff, yelling and grabbing guys. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been a part of was tying it up. We were pretty confident too after that goal. We thought it might deflate them a little bit. But they got that goal from Sidney Crosby. When Zach Parise’s goal went in, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in sports.
On what the team’s performance meant for USA Hockey
I think it’s great, just in the fact that many people in the U.S. watched it. All the fans were so supportive. We were getting e-mails and letters. Hopefully, that makes some more kids play hockey in the future. We were so happy that people were supporting us and we were proud to play for our country.
On quickly returning to NHL games
It’s nice to get back to it. You’re back with the guys you played against. That is what makes it pretty fun. We’ve talked about some memories each one of us had from the Olympics. Now playing together, it’s just back to the season and what we’re really here to do. It was fun and you’ll always remember the Olympics, but I don’t think it will be that tough to move on. We’re ready to play games for the Ducks now.
On the heightened popularity of hockey following the Olympics
I saw how many people watched. It’s been on Sportscenter. That is pretty cool. You don’t see that often. That is what this sport needs. It’s good for our game and our league. If you watched the Olympics, it proved that is how good the playoffs can be too. You just have to get people to actually watch and get into it.