The annals of gamesmanship are stuffed with calculated inconveniences – some minor, some clever, many of them hilarious – aimed at nudging opponents out of their comfort zone.
So, this has to be a nefarious plot, right?
Cossetted NHL players were provided their own rooms on road trips in the last collective agreement, but the 2014 Sochi Olympics organizing committee has evidently decided that is an unaffordable luxury. Thus, Canada’s hockey players will be sharing toilets and sleeping two and three to a room in beds more appropriately sized for junior-aged cross-country skiers than big, bruising NHLers.
“That’s, uh, interesting,” Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban said with a smile when shown a picture Tuesday of his soon-to-be home away from home: a basic room with three twin beds.
There have been multiple complaints about the state of Sochi’s readiness – one American reporter tweeted a photo of filthy tap water she was told wasn’t even safe enough to wash her face with – and, somewhere, organizers of the famously dysfunctional Games in Atlanta and Lake Placid are smiling.
But being a champion is about overcoming adversity, so Subban is here to tell you piddling matters like Sochi’s now-infamous tandem toilets, stray dogs, potentially toxic water (which may not be warm enough to shower in) and kid-sized beds won’t matter a jot.
“Well, we all talk about the importance of team bonding in a short tournament … I think this will help the process,” he said, tongue firmly in cheek. “I have a tendency to roll around when I sleep, though. I might end up in one of the other beds.”
More seriously, Subban said, spartan accommodations are part of the experience, and in any case the Olympics are about far more than creature comforts. It remains to be seen whether the Toronto native’s roommates will feel the same way – the 24-year-old is a self-confessed snorer.
The Canadian men’s hockey team has generally made a point of staying in the same accommodations as the rest of the country’s Olympic delegation.
“One of the things we discovered in our exit interviews from the previous Games, and particularly out of Vancouver [in 2010], is that the athletes wanted to be part of a team,” Canada chef de mission Steve Podborski told reporters in Sochi. “They want to really feel not just my team, but our team, all together. And that includes the hockey players.”
Athletes and staff report the Canadian quarters are a long walk from dining facilities, but at least the accommodations feature five-star views of the Black Sea.
More pertinently for Subban and his teammates, it’s also just a long slap shot away from the hockey arena.
With a report from The Canadian Press