There is a particular kinship that comes from pulling on your country's colours in international competition, but solidarity has its limits.
Montreal Canadiens rookie defenceman P.K. Subban played on the same gold-medal-winning 2008 world junior squad as Los Angeles Kings youngsters Jonathan Bernier, Wayne Simmonds and Drew Doughty, but there will be little time for small talk when their pro teams clash at the Bell Centre on Wednesday (Bernier of Laval, Que., gets the start in goal, his first in his home region.)
That's not to say there aren't enduring bonds from that star-laden team.
"We stay in touch, he's from the Toronto area, so we see each other in the summer," Simmonds said of Subban. "But there are no friends on the ice."
And is the rangy forward surprised the talkative Subban has grated on some established NHL stars, such as Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards?
"No way, not at all," Simmonds laughed. "He's a very confident player, and a really good player. He was the same way when he was playing in Belleville [in junior]. . . but he always played well so he could do it. I can understand why he irritates some of the older guys in the league, though."
There were similar echoes from Doughty, the new gold standard for flashy young NHL defencemen.
"P.K.'s a pretty good player, but he loves that trash talk. I'm sure we'll be getting lots of it [Wednesday]" Doughty said, smiling.
The ebullient Subban has no intention of changing his ways, and insists he is perfectly respectful of his elders - not that they should expect complete deference on the ice.
Richards was especially enraged at Subban after a game in Montreal last week - in which the rookie also tangled with Claude Giroux, who played on the 2008 world junior team - but anyone expecting the animosity to spill over into the Habs-Flyers rematch Monday were disappointed.
The two barely exchanged pleasantries, and while the Flyers and their fans were clearly targeting Subban, nothing untoward happened.
Not that the man at the centre of the brouhaha was worried about reprisals for his on-ice verbosity.
"I really wasn't thinking about it going into the game. … It's more something for the people who blew it out of proportion," Subban said on Tuesday.Report Typo/Error