Turin's venues in a race to finish line

TURIN, Italy -- You can say one thing for the hosts of these Olympic Games: They don't look very concerned, even in the midst of what could be a crisis.

What, me worry?

Either a big portion of this city is still under construction or the people organizing Turin 2006 aren't worried one bit about the fact there's unfinished work at virtually every venue with the Opening Ceremonies set for Friday.

A walk through the historic Piazza Castello late Monday showed a medal-ceremony plaza that needed to be constructed while the Torino Espozioni had half of its seats covered in a sheet of white plastic. That's pretty well consistent with other Olympic venues here.

"The rink should be ready," a Turin official said yesterday.

There's no question there is a lot of beauty and history in Turin, but essentially everything had to be built for these Games because this is not really a winter sports destination.

Yes, there's still time to get everything done, but the clock is ticking -- fast -- and it seems like everything has been left a little late to finish.

PUCK TALK: The decision by the U.S. hockey team to add Buffalo goalie Ryan Miler to its taxi squad is interesting to say the least. There is a school of thought that the Americans wouldn't mind if Philadelphia's Robert Esche pulled up lame so they could find a way to put Miller on the roster. He has been the best U.S. goalie this NHL season, but had a broken thumb at the time the team was named and wasn't selected ... Russian defenceman Alexei Zhitnik of the Islanders will miss the Olympics because of a sprained ankle ... Devils left winger Patrik Elias was called up to the Czech national squad to replace injured winger Petr Prucha of the Rangers ... A name that has come up in trade talks out of Washington is winger Jeff Friesen. Senators fans might remember him as the guy who scored the winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in 2003. The Capitals aren't going to re-sign Friesen and he might make a nice fit for the Senators because he's willing to pay the price and gets the job done. Don't forget Senators GM John Muckler and Washington counterpart George McPhee have done business before.

AROUND AND ABOUT: Getting around is proving to be interesting. Toronto Sun sports editor Pat Grier and I were unceremoniously booted out of a cab in downtown Turin late Monday because we had the audacity to ask why it cost five Euros just to sit down. We got an explanation in Italian, the car stopped and the driver said: "Arriverderci" while hitting the brakes. That was our signal to leave ... Okay, when is Canadian bobsledder Pierre Lueders going to say something completely outrageous and make these Games more interesting?

GOLDEN RINGS: There's already plenty of talk about Vancouver 2010 and organizers will hold a press conference Friday to outline their plans. Organizers are already 23% over budget, although that should really come as no surprise ... Gloucester native Elizabeth Manley, who won a silver medal at the 1988 Calgary Games, just walked by in the media centre. She must be working as a television analyst ... Won't find me complaining about the weather here. It's been beautiful and there's not a drop of snow. Naturally, that's not good news for everybody, which is why they're using fake snow at the Sauze D'Oulx -- the site for freestyle skiing.