Russia's Datsyuk gives Canada coach Babcock the straight-arm

Russia's Pavel Datsyuk talks to a coach during practice at Bolshoy Arena during the Sochi Winter...

Russia's Pavel Datsyuk talks to a coach during practice at Bolshoy Arena during the Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP)

Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:14 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - Pavel Datsyuk has some of the best moves in hockey.

You can add the straight-arm to his repertoire.

Datsyuk proclaimed himself ready to go for Russia’s opening game of the Olympic tournament, Thursday against Slovenia, despite battling a lower-body injury for the last few weeks with the Detroit Red Wings.

When asked about his injury, he said: “What injury?”

Told Wings and Team Canada coach Mike Babcock had said Datsyuk was not 100%, Datsyuk pretty much gave Babcock the hand: “Everything’s fine. My injury does not bother me at all. Babcock is not my concern right now,” he said.

Datsyuk, the Russian captain, practised Tuesday between Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov.

Datsyuk’s status for the Olympics was in doubt right up until the last minute and left Wings GM Ken Holland admitting he was powerless to stop his star from realizing a life-long dream.

Datsyuk said he was “excellent” after practice, but did have one limitation.

“I can do everything. The one thing I can’t do is talk to the media too much,” he said. “It takes lots of my energy.”

HEAR AND THERE

Teemu Selanne is in his sixth Olympic Games at age 43, playing on a line with 18-year-old Aleksander Barkov and 21-year-old Mikael Granlund. Yes, he’s older than their ages combined. When asked if he had to keep up to them or the kids to him, he said: “I think a little bit of both. I always said young guys keep you young, too. The funniest thing is I think mentally we are the same age.” Are they older or you younger? “I’m younger. I’m a little kid. That’s why I’m still playing. I don’t consider this a job. It’s a game that I love to play.”

THE BUZZ

There’s been a lot talk about North American players adjusting to the big ice here, but Team Canada defenceman P.K. Subban said it’s not that big an issue for him. “I played on the Olympic-size rink for four years in junior in Belleville. I loved it. I was talking to (teammate John) Tavares today. We were sitting on the bench and he said he used to hate coming to Belleville to play on that Olympic-size rink. I started laughing then he chipped in and said, ‘well, I still had a couple of four-point nights in that building.’ I guess he didn’t hate it too much. You’re just giving the best players in the world more space to work with.” ... Coming here to Russia has some personal meaning for Ray Shero, a member of the American team’s management group (he’s running things because David Poile of the Nashville Predators couldn’t travel after being struck in the face with a puck). Shero’s dad, Fred, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, was one of the first NHL coaches to embrace Soviet training techniques. “My father was a big fan of the Russian way of playing hockey. He studied Russian hockey and brought their techniques back to the National Hockey League even back in the 1960s,” said Shero. “It’s great to get here and experience Russian hospitality and meet the Russian players.” ... While visiting the Bolshoy Ice Dome Tuesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said a decision on the participation of NHL players in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea could be made in as soon as six months after the Sochi Games. There will be discussions with the NHL Players’ Association about the Olympics and other international competitions.

JUST SAYING

One of the Swedish defence pairings is Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson with Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes. They’re both young guys who like to skate and take off with the puck. Swedish forward Daniel Alfredsson said the pair is going to make things interesting — for both teams. He said when there’s a defenceman who likes to jump, you know where the danger is coming from. “Now you have two guys and you don’t know where they are going to come from. I hope with the wider ice they are going to be able to join the rush a lot and help us create offence,” he said. “It’s going to be up to the third forward and the other defenceman to read. Will there be mishaps? They’re young guys. I’m sure there will be. They’re going to more than make up for it with their skating ability, puck-handling and shooting. I think it’s going to be exciting to watch them.” ... Speaking of Karlsson and Alfredsson, Karlsson is happy to be reunited with the former Senators captain, who left to play for the Detroit Red Wings. “Obviously he’s a long-time good friend and I miss him in Ottawa. It’s going to be nice to be able to spend some time off the ice and to play some hockey with him.”

THE LAST WORD

Finnish forward Olli Jokinen said Vancouver would be his last Olympics, but he’s learned to keep his mouth shut when it comes to competing in future Games. So has Selanne: “I told them this was going to be my last one in Salt Lake City (in 2002). Olli’s right. You never know.”

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

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