As the spectre of terrorism grows darker around the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, expressions of worry among athletes are beginning to emerge.
Daniel Sedin, the star Vancouver Canucks scorer and a cornerstone of the Swedish men’s hockey team with his brother, Henrik, said the concern – highlighted by headlines this week of alleged suicide bombers planning to attack the Games, and Russian authorities saying “terrorists may be among us now” – is a topic of conversation.
“Sure, absolutely,” Daniel said Wednesday after practice. “We talk about it quite a bit.”
Daniel is married and a father of three children. Henrik is married with two children. The twins have two older brothers, both engineers. Their parents live in Sweden.
The Sedin twins were third/fourth liners when Sweden won Olympic gold in 2006 in Turin, with Daniel registering one goal and three assists, and Henrik three goals and one assist.
The brothers’ families had not planned to make the long trek next month to Sochi, a Russian resort on the Black Sea. But if they had, Daniel said, he would probably now tell them not to.
“Yeah, I would probably say that. I think if they had plans, I would for sure say I’d rather have them back home.”
Meanwhile, at Rogers Arena, in between game days, assistant captain Daniel stood in for the duties normally assumed by his brother, who is injured (ribs and hand). Listed as day-to-day, Henrik is “doing better,” according to Daniel.
The Canucks face the Nashville Predators on Thursday at home, which promises to be a dull defensive affair. It is the first of four games at home, in which the Canucks need to do well given they have won just three of 10 games this month (two of them against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers – two of the three worst teams in the NHL).
Vancouver is struggling on the ice, compounded by injuries and recent suspension of head coach John Tortorella for his role in this past Saturday’s highly publicized off-ice altercation outside the Flames dressing room. With Henrik sidelined and Mike Santorelli out indefinitely (shoulder), the Canucks second line in their scraping 2-1 win this past Tuesday in Edmonton was centred by Zac Dalpe.
The Canucks, however, are not entirely without the services of the suspended Tortorella, whose sentence is 15 days, covering six games. The NHL this past Monday said Tortorella was “not permitted to have any interaction with his club prior to, during or after games.”
It turns out “prior to” and “after” is a narrow window. Tortorella is allowed to speak with coaches and team management outside those general bounds, but not players.
The purpose of the restrictions was to limit Tortorella’s “ability to have contact with and coach the players,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail Wednesday. “They were not intended to put him in a bubble and float him into the Pacific for two weeks.”
Acting head coach Mike Sullivan is slowly working into a routine with Tortorella. The two men spoke by telephone this past Tuesday morning after Vancouver’s win in Edmonton.
Asked if Tortorella would be able to suggest line combinations and what players should be in and out of the lineup, Sullivan said details have not be settled, but noted: “From afar, I’m sure Torts will probably offer some insights.”
The riddle to solve remains the pop-gun offence. The Canucks produce shots but the goals aren’t coming; they’re averaging 2.47 a game, 20th in the NHL.
“We have the team to score more goals, for sure,” said Daniel, who hasn’t scored in 10 games. “We have the chances, too.”