CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Sidney Crosby would like to be on the ice this week at Hockey Canada's Olympic orientation camp.
Instead, the high cost of insurance will limit them to some optional off-ice workouts and maybe some golf on the side. But Hockey Canada figures that no skating is no problem for the players who travelled to Calgary for a few days of meetings, bonding and information-sharing in preparation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"It would be nice, but it's not the case and I still think we can get a lot out of these few days without skating," said Crosby, the Pittsburgh captain who scored the gold-medal-winning goal in Vancouver in 2010. "There will be a lot of information being thrown out there and we'll have to learn a lot in a short period of time, but I think everyone is kind of excited for that."
Those who went through this experience four years ago before the Vancouver Olympics remember it fondly. They were able to skate then, something that allowed coach Mike Babcock to at least get a rough idea of line combinations.
General manager Steve Yzerman would have liked that extra preparation, but as assistant coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins pointed out, not having the luxury of skating gives the staff a "great opportunity to do something different."
"What you do in the next three days, we've learned over time really matters," said assistant Ken Hitchcock, who coaches the St. Louis Blues. "The terminology that Mike talks about that we put in the next two days, the systems, the walk-throughs, are really, really important because all of us at the end of this event, we get onto our own teams and we don't think about it until we get on the plane. Having that information that the players can draw from, we can go back and hit familiar ground right away."
Creating some familiar ground is one of the main goals in the next couple of days. Many of the players at least know each other, but as Kevin Lowe, president of the Edmonton Oilers, noted, there's no way to underestimate "camaraderie and relationships" going into the Olympics.