Mending Fences

Olympic Rivals Must Bury The Hatchet To Become NHL Teammates Again

Ryan Kelser tried to jam his Vancouver Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo into the back of the net during a scrum in the crease.

Dustin Brown rubbed out his Los Angeles Kings teammate Drew Doughty along the boards.

Patrick Kane did everything he could to dipsy-doodle past Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, but the Chicago Blackhawks defensive duo have seen that move too many times in practice over the past three years.

Blood brothers just a few weeks ago have felt their blood boil these past 14 days as they have gone up against NHL teammates with national pride on the line.

Sunday’s gold-medal game had more than just bragging rights on the line. They were playing for an Olympic gold medal, which the Canadian players were wearing around their necks after a hard-fought, 3-2, overtime victory in front of a packed house of 17,748 rabid fans, and millions more tuned in around North America.

Brooks Orpik has been on the winning side of his Pittsburgh Penguins’ teammate Sidney Crosby’s heroics in the past. Today, Orpik watched from the bench as Crosby scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

“He’s one of those guys who is able to step up his play in big games and he’s really opportunistic,” said Orpik, who won a Stanley Cup with Crosby last season.

“You never want to lose but if we’re going to lose I’m happy that he had success.”

Not every NHL player shared those feel-good sentiments over their teammate’s success. Kesler said it may take a while before he can talk to Luongo about the game, or anything else for that matter.

“It’s going to be awkward,” Kesler said of reuniting with Luongo when the Canucks reunite on Tuesday to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first game after the Olympic break.

“I saw him [on Saturday] and wished him good luck. He didn’t say anything back, so I don’t know what that’s all about.”

Kesler got the best of his Canucks’ teammate, deflecting a Patrick Kane wrist shot past Luongo to cut the Canadian lead to 2-1 midway through the second period.

“To come up short definitely hurts,” said Kesler. “We deserved better.”

Now comes the hard part. Teammates that have tried to take each other’s heads off for the past two weeks must mend fences and come together to help their NHL teams push toward the playoffs.

“It’s not fun playing against them,” Kane said of playing against his Blackhawk teammates. “Once we go back with our own teams it will be nice to play with them again.”

On the reverse side, U.S. players have formed bonds that will last throughout their careers and beyond. David Backes may even learn to like Kesler, his Western Conference nemesis.

“I’ve said this before that I hate to play against the guy but I’m starting to admit that I might like to play with him,” the St. Louis Blues forward said.

This was a great game

This was a great game man! Thanks for the post.

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