Friday, 7 February 2014

Let The Games Begin

The 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games kicked off today with the Opening Ceremonies, and there were some prominent hockey players featured in the procession of athletes as they entered Ficht Stadium. Of course, most of the NHLers participating in the Olympics were still with their teams, but one NHLer made it to Sochi in time to be his country's flag bearer. The Opening Ceremonies were a visual spectacle, and it appears that Russia is quite prepared for these Olympic Games.

Sandis Ozolinsh, formerly of the NHL and KHL, led his Latvian Olympians into Ficht Stadium as the flag bearer for his nation. Ozolinsh will be counted on heavily in Latvia's appearance at these Games, and he appears to be in pretty good shape after having retired from the international game nearly eight years ago.

The Boston Bruins allowed captain Zdeno Chara to skip the final two regular season games before the Olympic break so that he could fulfill his duties as the flag bearer for Slovakia. Chara, as noted on the NBC broadcast, grew up in Czechoslovakia before the break-up of the country and learned Russian due to the heavy Soviet influence in the country. Today, he waved his flag proudly, and it was nice to see one of the more prominent NHL players representing his country in the Opening Ceremonies. Well done, Bruins, on letting Chara attend and make his country proud!

Hayley Wickenheiser led the 211 Canadian Olympians into Ficht Stadium with a beaming smile! The Canadians sent a record 100 women to these Olympic Games, and the Canadian women's hockey team will be prominently featured. Unlike the American and Finnish women who skipped the Opening Ceremonies in order to rest for their early game (3:45am ET) on today's schedule, the Canadian women's team attended and appeared to have a blast! The Canadian women will play Switzerland later today, so check your local listings for that game!

Finally, Vladislav Tretiak, a four-time Olympian for the Soviet Union, was involved in the lighting of the Olympic torch! Tretiak has always been regarded as one of the best to ever play the game, and it should be noted that he was the man pulled out of the net in the 1980 Olympics in which the "Miracle on Ice" occurred. Tretiak has always maintained that the Soviets would have won that game had he not been pulled, and I happen to think that he's right. It was good to see him in his native Russia and playing a big part in the 2014 Olympics!

Hockey will run almost entirely through these Olympic Games, so there will be lots of puck action to watch! Tune in when you can, watch the replays if you can't watch through the overnight broadcasts, and cheer on your favorite Olympians as the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games gets underway!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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