Wilson wants NHLers in Russia

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — It’s going to be a tough couple of days for Team USA coach Ron Wilson.

First there was the disappointment of losing the gold-medal game to Canada in overtime Sunday evening. And now he has to go back to his regular job, coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Still, the letdown of losing such a hard-fought game didn’t prevent Wilson from speaking out about certain issues in a post-game media conference, specifically about whether NHL players should play at the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and the way the European teams played at these Games. Wilson said NHLers should go to Sochi.

“We do a pretty good job of stealing players from every country and I think we owe their fans an opportunity to witness a tournament like this,” Wilson said. “But if we do go to Sochi, I would urge the NHL to give the players a couple of extra days. That’s a long way to travel.”

Wilson said, rightly, that his team played just as well as Canada Sunday, and lauded both teams for their style of play.

“I would hope that they play the game (in Sochi) on this (NHL size) ice surface because I think the games are so much better,” said Wilson. “The game had so much intensity and Canada and the United States play the game the way it should be, not sit back on your heels waiting for something bad to happen and counter-punching, but actually going on the attack. I know Mike’s (Babcock) teams play that way, I try to play that way — not very successfully right now with our (team) in Toronto.”

At which point a roomful of journalist began laughing.

“That’s nothing to laugh at,” he snapped. “I’m teaching them to play the right way. Not the Slovakian, or Czech or the Russian way, where you sit back and wait and wait and wait. We’re on the attack. This was a classic hockey game. To me it’s exactly the way the game should be played.

“The game was invented in Canada and I think we in the United States have morphed into the same style of play, and it’s fun to coach that way,” Wilson said.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

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