Less than 48 hours after standing on the ice at Canada Hockey Place, singing O'Canada with a gold medal around his neck, Eric Staal was still beaming at the experience.
Now back with the Carolina Hurricanes after a couple weeks away, Staal said part of the fun was attempting to bring his medal through airport security on the way to Toronto where his team will face the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.
"It was at my hotel, I think it's here (in the dressing room) now, but I don't have it on me right at this second," Staal said of the medal. "It's a good thing I didn't put it in my bags because they didn't show up on time yesterday.
"I had it in my carry-on, so that was good. I had to take it through security at five in the morning, and she searched my bag and kinda pulled it out, she's like 'oh… this is neat!' I'm like 'yeah.' She didn't know what to do after that, just put all the stuff back in my bag."
With the Olympic triumph, Staal became only the 23rd player to join the "Triple Gold Club" by winning all three of the Olympics, world championships and the Stanley Cup. He joins Rob Blake, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger as the sixth Canadian to accomplish the rare feat.
"Obviously I'm honoured to be in that group," Staal said. "They gave me a little pin that said Triple Gold Club and it says 23rd. It's pretty special, pretty elite club to be in at my age, 25 … Now I'm hoping just to be able to add to those totals for the next bunch of years."
Staal ended up as one of Canada's most productive forwards at the Games, picking up a goal and five assists in seven games. He was also plus-6, second to only Jonathan Toews on the team, and played about 15 minutes a game out of position on the wing.
He said the Olympic experience was one of the best moments of his career.
"The whole two weeks in general and the atmosphere in that game was thrilling," Staal said. "I was just excited watch all the other guys get draped with their medals. After it comes over your neck, you just want to take a look at it quick and then just soak it in everywhere else because the atmosphere in that building was unbelievable. Pretty much the whole country watching, we saw the reports on that, it was unbelievable and awesome and something I'll never forget."
Staal added he is also more than ready to get back to playing in the NHL.
"Hopefully I get a good cheer out of the Leafs faithful," he said.