Turin tour ticks off Z

TURIN -- The Big Z got off to a rough start when he landed in town for the Olympics yesterday.

After making the 14-hour trek here from Ottawa, Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara stuffed himself into a cab at the airport and asked to go to the athletes' village.

There was just one problem: The cabbie didn't know where it was. Instead, Chara walked into the breakfast room at the Media Village Mortara and started looking for directions.

"This cabbie is completely lost. He has no idea where he's going," said a frustrated Chara.

All Chara wanted to see were some familiar faces. When he caught sight of two Ottawa writers he recognized, Chara started looking for help to find his way.

Unfortunately, Chara wasn't even close to where he had to be. I conveniently didn't tell him he had at least another 30 minutes in the cab waiting for him.

If Chara's not on the ice for Slovakia today, we'll know there's big trouble.

THE MEDAL PLAZA: There's a new sports at these Olympics: Pick pocketing. At least two members of the unsuspecting Canadian media contingent have been robbed while they've been here. In one case, the thief opened up the journalist's purse, took out her wallet and credit cards and then closed it to make it look like nothing happened. That's why I'm keeping my wallet and passport zipped up in my coat. Let you know if it works ... Former University of Ottawa Gee-Gees coach Mickey Goulet isn't sure he'll return to Italy next season. His contract is up in June, his family is living in Ottawa and he's in downtown Milan by himself. "It's pretty tough," said Goulet. "They've offered me a contract and they want me to stay, but I'm not sure right now. We're going to have to see" ... Many are wondering if the European paparazzi will show up in Turin when Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky arrives today with wife Janet Jones. A Canadian journalist noted yesterday this gambling scandal story has everything the media in Europe love to cover. Gretzky will hold a news conference tonight, but many Canadian television media are planning to go to the Turin airport to try to get shots of him arriving.

ON THE PODIUM: There's talk the IOC is committed to having women's hockey in the Olympics until Vancouver 2010, but then the sport could be up for review. People have taken notice of the fact Canada and the U.S. are hammering all their opponents. A final between the two teams on Feb. 20 is a foregone conclusion and that has some officials concerned ... The IIHF has banned journalists from wearing jerseys in the press box. Guess I'll have to leave my Team Canada scarf at home ... The good people at "Club Bud" wrote to remind me some of the lugers and bobsledders will be wearing Speedo outfits during the Games ... Hang on, I've got to stop here for a second to e-mail the Swedes to complain about them running up the score on the host Italy team yesterday ... Remember the Russian guy with all the Big Mac coupons from the notepads? Well, I saw him yesterday at the rink interviewing a player. He had a video camera in one hand, a notepad in the other and he was also taking still photos. Talk about multi-tasking ... Before turning down an interview request from Canadian Press hockey writer Pierre LeBrun Sunday, actor Donald Sutherland tried to sign his notepad because he thought LeBrun was a fan looking for an autograph.