February 19, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Now that they've both defeated Norway and Switzerland, the Canada and U.S. men's hockey teams have no one else to overlook before their preposterously anticipated grudge match on Sunday.
But they also have some rare downtime before that battle during which to actually experience the Olympic Games they're attending here. Which means USA player Bobby Ryan(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks (above) can finally fulfill every young hockey player's dream and witness the unparalleled thrills of ... curling?
"To be honest, I'm interested in seeing the curling. I've never gotten into it before, but I've played it on Wii, which I got for Christmas. I'd like to see how it is live," said Ryan. "It's a strategic sport. I've never done it myself. Just on Wii."
Is he any good?
"I don't want to brag ... I hang in there."
Olympic and NHL teammate defenseman Ryan Whitney(notes) said virtual curling fan Bobby Ryan is being modest. "He is good on the Wii. But that's not an event I'm dying to see, to tell you the truth," said Whitney.
As for other NHL players getting some much-needed downtime:
Kane said the snowboarding half-pipe was at the top of his list of events to witness live ... provided the winger's time isn't dominated by the Patrick Kane Olympic Athlete Fan Club.
"I've heard through the grapevine that some ice dancers want to meet me, so maybe I can meet them," he said. "They play the EA Sports NHL 10 game, and that's why they want to meet me. All I heard was they were good-lookin.'"
Hopefully someone tells Kane that the ice dancers in question are Americans Charlie White (right) and Evan Bates, Detroit Red Wings hockey fans who play NHL 10 on Xbox to calm their nerves. While good-lookin', they may not exactly be the image that immediately jumps to Patty's mind when hearing "ice dancer."
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Kane's Blackhawks teammate is happy to check out some of the Games before the U.S. showdown.
"It'd be cool to see some events. I heard some tickets are tough to come by. It'd be cool to see some of the speed-skating."
No ice dancing?
"Not really my style. I think I'll just watch it on TV."
The third-string keeper for the Canadians said he planed on looking at the schedule and finding an event that has some tickets available. "No offense to curling, but probably not curling."
Doesn't owning a Stanley Cup ring mean access to any ticket in Canada?
"I don't think so," he said with a laugh. "Probably Roberto [Luongo] could. He's the local boy."
Said Luongo, the Vancouver Canucks star and Canada netminder: "I could [find any ticket], but for a price probably."
Coach Ron Wilson, USA (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Has the gruff U.S. coach had a chance to see any of the Olympics?
"I haven't been getting out. I'm trying to prepare this damn team," he said.
Now that he has some downtime?
"The event I'd most likely see with my family, and you can believe this or not, is women's figure skating. I'd rather see women's figure skating than men's figure skating."
Doughty, the youngest Olympian on either side, said his options are limited by geography. "I'd love to see some snowboarding, but that's all the way out at Whistler. But I don't mind just relaxing around the village," he said.
What's more relaxing than hunting virtual deer in the village entertainment center?
Doughty's found an affinity for the Big Buck Hunter video game, as have other Team Canada members. Alas, Doughty said on Wednesday that his most recent expedition was trumped by the score of teammate Mike Richards(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers; and yes, the notion of a Flyers player annihilating defenseless animals for sport is just about perfect.
Miller said the first few days of the tournament have been a marathon of games, practices and attempts to get their lives organized back in the Olympic Village. He said finding time for his family in town has been challenging.
"With practice time even now, by the time you get anything going ... you have to go through security, through media, back to the village and out of the village, it's 4:30 in the afternoon. It limits what you can do," he said.
As for the downtime: "If I can't see some of the events, I'd like to see a medal ceremony. See the emotions. It's four years of work and it's all coming out on stage."