Even the athletes look forward to Sid the Kid

Chan: I'm a huge fan. Sidney Crosby. He's the guy!

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VANCOUVER – They gathered in the athletes village Wednesday, along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to come together as the Canadian Olympic Team for the first time.

It was the Canadian flag raising ceremony and there wasn't an NHL hockey player among them.

Friday night they'll march in the opening ceremonies, these athletes who spent the last four years competing around the world without the kind of notice an NHL player gets at an average practice.

The hockey heroes will be here a day or two later and, because Canada is hockey, hockey, hockey. They'll take a giant portion of the the focus away from the other stars of ice and snow to compete for the one gold medal that Canada wants more than any other.

Do you wonder if there is there resentment here for an Olympics in Canada where the NHL players will come to steal their show?

Ninteen-year-old world silver medal-winning figure skater Patrick Chan, when he was asked who he was most looking forward to meeting in the village, said that was an easy question.

“The hockey players! I'm a huge fan. Sidney Crosby. He's the guy!”

Jessica Gregg, the short track speed skating daughter of five-time Stanley Cup champion and former Olympic hockey player Randy Gregg, wouldn't figure to get all ga-ga about the arrival of some hockey players.

“We're all excited to see them. We all know exactly the day they're coming. If we get a chance to meet them in the lounge or in the cafeteria, that's an exciting part. All of us are looking forward to meeting Sidney Crosby.”

Moguls skier Vincent Marquis is over the moon at the idea of hanging out with the hockey players.

“I'm really looking forward to seeing those guys because I'm a huge hockey fan. I not only hoping to meet them I'm hoping to even play a little street hockey with them.

“Last night I saw Richard Zednik in the cafeteria and I just froze because I was so excited,” he said.

Short track skater Francois Hamelin will be wearing a Team Canada jersey around the village.

“I have a shirt from the hockey team and will try to see them and try to get it signed by them. I'm looking forward to talking to them.”

Resentment?

“I don't think there's any resentment at all,” said curler Marc Kennedy.

“It's pretty amazing here to be surrounded by the best athletes in the world and I think everybody is looking forward to the hockey players showing up to join us in being part of the bigger team. That's what I'm looking forward to more than anything. All those guys being part of the same team that I'm on,” he said.

Maybe there was a Canadian athlete at the flag-raising who resents the hockey players presence. If there is, I suspect they'll find to their surprise, as Canadian athletes did back in Nagano 1998, that the hockey players couldn't wait to be with them.

The first-time NHL players were included in the Olympics, Wayne Gretzky and the gang created an amazing scene at the Nagano railway station upon their arrival. The focus was just as massive as at the this Canadian hosting of the five ring circus. But when the hockey players made it to the village – where they wanted to be instead of at a hotel like the U.S. Dream Team in basketball – the other athletes were shocked with the way they went out of their way to try fit in as Olympic equals.

I suspect the seven Team Canada hockey players who are headed here to make their Olympic debuts can't wait to do the same.


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