Crosby, others arrive for Canada’s Olympic camp

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.

Spending time together is one thing players said they’re trying

to get out of this experience.

”I know a lot of them are going to be my opponents during the

season; some of them are pretty close friends that I haven’t seen

in while, so it’s a plus,” Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot

said. ”And being around some great hockey people, there’s always

an opportunity to learn a lot of cool new things. And we’re still

getting a couple workouts in. They’re optional workouts, but we are

working out, so it’s not a complete loss, physically.”

Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf emphasized the need to stay

in a workout routine, which also might be the biggest downside of

not skating at this camp.

”I don’t think it matters from a standpoint of preparing for

the Olympics. I think that we’re all professional players here,

we’re all playing relatively the same game. There’s no big hockey

secret out there,” Getzlaf said. ”I think that the only thing

that would be nice to keep on skating because we’re getting

prepared for our own (NHL training) camps. This is a big chunk,

this is almost a whole week where we’re not going to get our skates

in.”