The last time Fredrik Modin and Samuel Pahlsson went to Vancouver, British Columbia, they left with a 7-3 drubbing at the hands of the Canucks. For their next trip, they’re looking to bring back gold.
Columbus Blue Jackets Modin and Pahlsson were part of the Swedish squad that captured the gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Turin, Italy. Along with their countrymen, they will begin their defense of the medal against Germany in the preliminary round of this year’s games.
In addition to Pahlsson and Modin, four other Jackets will be making the trip to Vancouver to represent their respective countries. They are Fedor Tyutin (Russia), Milan Jurcina (Slovakia), Jan Hejda (Czech Republic) and Columbus captain Rick Nash (Canada).
Oddly enough for a team located in the heart of America, there isn’t a single Blue Jackets player representing the U.S. in the 2010 games.
This will be the second Olympic Games for Nash. He represented Team Canada in the Turin Games, where the powerful Canadian squad finished in a disappointing seventh place.
Now that the games are being hosted by his home country, there will be an increased impetus to win, especially for Nash, who was limited to one assist in six games in Turin.
“There was tons of pressure the last time in Turin,” Nash said of his last Olympic experience. “But anytime you put on the red-and-white maple leaf, there’s a lot of pressure.”
Nash is probably already salivating over the possibility of playing on a line with fellow Canadian and all-world center, Sidney Crosby. It will be the first Olympic Games for Crosby, who was left off the 2006 team.
Nash can’t be blamed for feeling the heat. He plays for a country where hockey is raised to a level that makes finding a comparison here in the U.S. difficult.
One Canadian columnist summed it up this way: “The thought of a losing effort is something wholly unacceptable and incalculable within this culture, where national pride and hockey skill are inseparable entities.”
It may be the final time for some of these Jackets to represent their home countries. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s recent comments on the future status of NHL players in the Olympics has cast some doubt on their possible participation in the 2014 games.
There is currently no agreement in place for the 2014 games, which will be held in Sochi, Russia.
There are many variables for Bettman to consider going forward. Chief among these are economic and competitive factors.
“It’s difficult for any business, any league, to shut down for two weeks with the attendant loss of attention and everything that flows from it,” Bettman said. “And there are competitive issues.”
The competitive issues he is referring to are because of the fact that not every NHL team sends the same amount of players to the Olympics. Or any at all for that matter. So when the season resumes, some teams may have benefited from the two-week break more than others.
Is that enough to pull the plug?
“I know the players are passionate about representing their countries. We have a long history as a sport in international competition and that’s something that’s important to the players,” Bettman said. “But we have to decide on balance, ‘Is it worth it?'”