The great part of watching the Olympics -- be it the Summer Games or Winter Games -- is that I find myself enjoying every event that is on at that exact time. Whether it’s bobsledding, team ice dancing or the biathlon, I can’t help but get hooked into watching because these athletes have been living every day of their lives for the last four years for this moment.
It’s incredible. You can feel the passion and the excitement and, for a lot of the events, I find it hard not to root for everyone because as an athlete you know the sacrifices they have made to be on this stage and perform at this level. Getting to the Games is such a huge accomplishment in itself that it becomes hard not to be happy for all the athletes involved.
The athletes aren’t the only ones making sacrifices. The NHL allows the league to shut down for three weeks so the countries can pull the best players from around the world and let them showcase their skills.
I am a huge fan of this in that it provides the top talent a chance to compete against each other and brings exposure to our sport and the NHL. Olympic hockey is truly a special event and the most talented hockey you will see in Sochi.
The Kings sent six players to this year’s Games, and I am happy for all of them. There will be a lot of pressure on Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty to repeat Canada’s gold-medal performance from the 2010 Games, but Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick will feel it too, playing for the U.S.
With Slava Voynov playing in his first Olympics for Russia -- as the host country -- that has to be an unreal feeling, and with Anze Kopitar leading Slovenia to its first men’s hockey appearance ever, there are a lot of great reasons to cheer for all these guys.
The pressure on all these guys will be immense due to the format of the tournament. Anything can happen in the medal round, which is one-game-elimination, and that makes for exciting hockey. A hot goaltender can steal a big game and really change the landscape of the podium.
But that’s why you send the best players over there. They can deliver and perform in high-pressure environments.
Kings defenseman Matt Greene will be blogging for The Times during the Games, giving his insights into the hockey competition.