Monday, February 16, 1998
Big Hat mysteries solved
The mystery of the lost edges has been solved.
The Canadian players had been losing the edges on their skate blades in mid-game and had assumed it was a result of poor ice at the Big Hat Arena.
However Darren Pang, a former goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks and now an analyst for ESPN, noticed that on occasion, when players jumped on to the ice, sparks were flying.
In the National Hockey League, benches are made of wood or plastic. Any metal is covered.
But in Big Hat, the benches' stanchions are made of metal and there also are some exposed metal parts on the benches. As the players pushed off to jump on to the ice, their blades were contacting metal and ruining the edges.
But the trainers went to work and by yesterday's game, the exposed metal parts had been covered with tape.
ICING THE PUCK: A further mystery has also been solved.
The pucks seemed to be bouncing so much that some of the players were wondering if they were the notorious Fox-TV pucks.
Nothing that devious.
It seems that the Japanese, mindful of the possible danger to fans who are not familiar with high-level hockey, have installed netting at the ends of the rink.
As a result, pucks are staying in play.
In the NHL, pucks fly out of the rink at such a rate that the game-puck is always frozen. But the Olympic pucks routinely were staying in the game for eight minutes or more.
Not only were they losing their edges from being slammed around, they were warming up and therefore bouncing a lot.
Now, referees have been told that after four minutes or so, they should change the puck.
And it's easy to know when a puck is due to be changed. The Olympic logo has been painted on rather than applied as a decal, so after a brief time it wears off. Once it's gone, it's time to change the puck.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Teemu Selanne nearly caused an international incident after Finland's game yesterday.
While he was heading to the bus, fans across the road were shouting at him and wishing him well. The ever co-operative Selanne urged them to come over to the bus so he could sign autographs.
Some complied, much to the horror of the Olympic security guards who started shouting at the fans and threatening them through a bullhorn.
Selanne signed a couple of autographs before the crowd was pushed back but took one fan's phone number to arrange a meeting so he could sign the man's flag.
ROUGH STUFF: The mask was sent flying into the air by the violent collision in the crease. As the goaltender chased his attacker, sticks dropped to the ice and two fights began.
NHL players have brought some of their NHL habits to Nagano.
The unusual Olympic moment wasn't a product of players from the United States or Canada. Rather, the old-fashioned hockey brawl occurred yesterday between Russia and Finland, two teams that supposedly rely predominantly on speed, passing and finesse.
"I play in Europe. It's much different," said Finland goalie Jarmo Myllys, the victim of a hit by Darius Kasparaitis. "This game is so fast, with so many good players playing. And much more physical."
After Kasparaitis decked Myllys, he exchanged punches with Finland's Jyrki Lumme. When order was finally restored, Lumme and Kasparaitis both received 10-minute misconduct penalties.
In the Czech Republic-Kazakhstan game early yesterday, gloves and sticks littered the ice midway through the second period after Jan Caloun of the Czechs and Vladimir Antipin pounded on each other along the backboards.
Czech coach Ivan Hlinka said forward David Moravec had some teeth loosened in the game.
Defenceman Petr Svoboda received a game misconduct with 33 seconds left after a blatant high-sticking violation.