GM Place ice panned by Yzerman

By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — As if VANOC needed any more trouble, along comes word that ice at GM Place is playing havoc with the Olympic hockey tournament.

Both Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman and head coach Mike Babcock questioned the quality of ice at the main hockey arena Friday, complaining it is hindering the game’s greatest players.

“The ice conditions are a real problem,” said Yzerman. “The ice is taking a lot of skill and finesse out of the game. I’m watching in the third period of the game between Russia and Slovakia and the puck is bouncing up and down.

“When you see guys like (Evgeny) Malkin and (Ilya) Kovalchuk, the best puck handlers in the world, having trouble, you have to wonder if the ice is good enough. All the teams here are based on skill. Everybody can carry the puck. Everybody can skate. It can be difficult when the ice isn’t good. It eliminates crisp passing and thats what we, and other teams, are counting on.”

Babcock pointed to the shootout in the Russian-Slovakia game as an example of the problem.

“Did you see (Alexander) Ovechkin?” said Babcock. “The puck kept rolling on him. I thought in the third period of that game it looked like a tennis ball, the puck is bouncing all over the place. I think if you at our game, I think a lot of the turnovers were caused because of the ice. If it’s going to be like that it’s going to change how we approach the game.”

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

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