I’m back on US soil after an amazing Olympic experience in Sochi, Russia. I love the Olympic Games and I feel it should be a bucket list item for all.
I first have to say that the North American media did the Olympics and the Russian’s a disservice for all their security and terror threat reports leading up to the games. Thousands of travelers cancelled their trips to Sochi to enjoy the games and root for their country because of the hype. I understand that people need to be aware, but many people were scared off from attending due to the image being portrayed. I feel that Putin and his Russian security team made me feel like my location was the safest place on earth.
Let’s talk about the games! I unfortunately couldn’t see any other events live since hockey had me engulfed. I spent most of my time watching the games when I wasn’t on set, and the rest of my day was consumed with sleeping or in the gym. The time change had me so screwed up, it was brutal, but worth it.
The figure skating seemed awesome as did the skiing events that I caught on TV. I felt like a scrooge missing these events and being so close, but time disappeared. It is important to me to support the athletes of the other sports, honoring their hard work, discipline and dedication to earn a spot at the Olympics. It is a mindset and lifestyle to attain this goal, and it should always be celebrated.
The hockey in my opinion, was average.
I think I expected more high intensity games and closer match ups with all the great talent that was there.
There was an exception, when team Russia played. The Russia/USA game was the most exciting game of the Olympics for me, and it was only in the preliminary round. That was intense hockey, back and forth, even scoring. some dislike the shootout format, but it provided television with a very exciting product. Team USA impressed us initially only to have a power outage at the most important time of the tournament getting shut out by both Canada and Finland.
I felt bad for the guys, but I’m sure they will all say they didn’t give their best effort. I appreciated Zach Parise’s honesty in his post tournament interview with Pierre McGuire, calling it disappointing and embarrassing. I love that kid because he calls himself out when things don’t go well, and isn’t afraid to say what is on his mind as a leader. The NHL needs more of this.
Phil Kessell, David Backes, Joe Pavelski, And Jonathan Quick all played great, but when you look at the final score sheet, it unfortunately doesn’t read that way. How about Kessler playing through his injury after the first game, when his hand blocked a shot. What a warrior! In the end it was a a disappointing tourney for Team USA, which makes me wonder…. did this poor finish set USA hockey back a step, and just how far of a setback will this be? The US should take a long hard look at the types of players they fill their roster with and see where they need to make some style changes.
Congrats to my good friend Teemu Selanne for winning bronze. It’s amazing to me that at 43 years old he can dominate in Olympic competition with the greatest young players in the world. He lead emotionally and also on the scoresheet and never looked out of place. He will now be the highest scorer in Olympic competition for the men and this couldn’t happen to a better person. I’m blown away by his kindness and humbleness every time I see him. Every athlete in the world should meet Teemu Selanne and learn how to act and carry yourself. I can’t say enough about him. I’m proud to be his friend.
The Gold medal to Canada was no surprise to me. I called this before the Olympics started and was chirped for being “unAmerican”.
I can say they were the best team to watch, play and develop as the tournament continued. Steve Vzerman and his staff and coaching crew did an amazing job of bringing these players all together to compete as one strong unit. The only team I remember being this strong was possibly the 1987 Canada Cup team that beat the Soviet Union in dramatic fashion. I can’t think of one player that didn’t contribute in some sort for Team Canada, which is no wonder they won gold again. This team deserved to win!
I was disappointed in the Russian’s inability to live up to the pressure of home country expectations. So much talent but too many passengers, and not enough grit and chemistry to win the big games. I thought Pavel Datsyuk played as the true warrior we have seen in the NHL. He lived up to my thoughts and expectations as one of the greatest competitors in the world. He played better than anyone of his teammates and he did it at 70% healthy. He epitomizes leadership, and I respect what he brings to the game of Hockey.
I had a great time working for NBC and I am really proud of everyone at the network for the fantastic coverage and all the hard work that went into providing it to viewers all over the world. The sports were analyzed by very knowledgable people who brought dimension, but the one interview I watched that made me feel uncomfortable was with Bode Miller when he broke down. The barrage of similar questions to bring him to tears was a bit much and I think the public agrees. I loved the way Bode handled himself in the aftermath with strength and class.
Thanks for watching everyone. It’s now time for a stretch run in the NHL and the best time of the year, playoffs! I can’t wait! — JR