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Culture Shock For North American Hockey Players At Olympics

Canadian and American hockey players who get a chance to play in the Olympics will quickly realize the night-and-day difference.

Olympic gold medalist Henrik Sedin, who was part of the Sweden team in 2006, said that those in North America will feel that they are playing a totally different sport even if the difference in the size of the rink doesn’t seem much. In fact, the Olympic standard is all but 15 feet bigger.

This is why he explained that it’s not surprising some NHL players struggled with the Olympics competition. In the same vein, those who are used to have much success in the Olympics will find that playing in North American professional leagues is difficult.

“It’s totally different: two different sports,” he said.

raig Ramsey, the coach of the Slovak hockey team, agreed that some players may suffer from culture shock as they find themselves in a bigger ice rink. In the Olympics, the defensemen can take advantage by pushing the player a little bit wider and cutting off all your angles. An experienced goalie also knows all the tricks in cutting the angles of the scorer in the bigger rink.

“It was a hard game because people would be more than willing to beat you (wide) but now they’re 50 feet from the net instead of 40 and there’s a big difference,” Ramsey, who played for the Buffalo Sabres, said.

“It’s not as easy to score as people think,” he added.

Canada won the gold in the 2014 Sochi Olympics but they did so because coach Mike Babcock had the foresight to hire a consultant so his players will acclimatize themselves on the big ice. Still, it wasn’t easy as the team only scored a total of six goals in three-medal rounds.

Center Jamie Benn, who was part of that Canadian team, said they learned how to shrink the ice with smart play. He explained, “You definitely have more time and more space, but in the end it’ll always come back to the middle of the ice.”