Leopold lost in the fray

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

Watching from the sidelines, Jordan Leopold enjoys the circus surrounding Canada's Olympic hockey team.

The Calgary Flames defenceman hasn't grown tired of the frenzy and spotlight on the squad, even though he's an American.

He's not fazed by constantly hearing Team Canada is favoured to win gold.

"Isn't that what everyone expects?" queried Leopold with a laugh.

"Actually, it's neat how a whole country just grasps the whole hockey thing. It's culture up here, a big story and the top headline.

"In the States, it's not as big. We'll see how the Olympics pans out because everybody takes an interest and pride in the Olympics."

Calgary's two Canadian team players -- Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr -- have garnered much attention leading into the men's tournament, which begins Wednesday.

Lost in the hubbub is the fact Leopold will be making his Olympic debut.

He has dreamed about his opportunity, especially coming from Minnesota, where many members of the 1980 Miracle On Ice squad hailed.

"It's neat but you'd also like to leave your own mark on the program, too," Leopold said.

"As a kid growing up in the USA Hockey organization, you'd be on bus trips and they always throw on a couple of those 1980 games to motivate guys and let us know how important it is in our hockey history.

"Really, it was one of those things that put us on the map, so we hope to continue that. We've had a lot of guys go through the system who have been great players."

In a pool with Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, Sweden and Slovakia, the Americans won't face off against Canada in the preliminary round. That means Leopold won't go up against any Flames teammates unless the teams meet in the medal rounds.

That would mean the challenge of going up against Iginla.

"I know his tendencies, so I'm gonna crush him," Leopold joked. "Everybody there is a talented player, it's the best in the world and a grand stage.

"The big ice makes you have a different mentality playing against a guy like Iggy. It's going to be interesting to see how it pans out.

"When it comes down to it, hockey's hockey. It's all about going out there and having fun, playing for your country and representing them and trying to win hockey games."


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