Instead of collecting a fourth Olympic medal in Sochi, Russia, Ducks center Saku Koivu remained in Orange County, resting his 39-year-old body for perhaps a final run at a Stanley Cup.
No regrets after Team Finland, led by Ducks teammate and Olympic tournament most valuable player Teemu Selanne, collected bronze in Russia?
“No,” Koivu said, adding he wasn’t surprised by the strong showing, either. “Since ’94, Finland’s only gone once without an Olympic medal. We’re not favorites. You create your own expectations and respect.
“We don’t have as many NHLers, but we have talent, enough scoring … and pretty much every tournament we play the best team game and are pretty good defensively. We find ways to win and get medals. This was no different.”
Koivu said he appreciated the rest as he finished an extended 90-minute practice Monday at Honda Center.
“There’s no guarantees that I’m going to feel that much better, but I felt I didn’t have what it took – more mentally, less physically – to go into the Games and come back,” Koivu said. “I felt I needed the extra training and time off. For us and for everybody, it’s going to be a challenge to get back into the rhythm.
“Hopefully, down the line, I’m going to feel a little more sharp and fresh and hopefully we can have a good run. It was a personal choice I thought about many times, and I felt like this was the right one for me.”
HILLER FIRST BACK: Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller was the first of seven Olympians from the team to return to Anaheim, doing so last week, and rejoining the squad on the ice Monday after his Switzerland team bowed out.
Hiller had two shutouts in Sochi. He said he’s overcome the jet lag, and said the Ducks’ extended break before resuming play Friday – NHL action resumes with one game Tuesday – will help his teammates who should all be back in Orange County by Tuesday.
“Those extra … days are definitely well worth it,” Hiller said.
It's good, Hiller said, that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry return with a gold medal, Jakob Silfverberg with a silver, Selanne and Sami Vatanen with bronze and Cam Fowler with a first Olympic experience.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he’d expect all of the Olympians to be back practicing by Thursday.
“With those guys having success, it helps, and [us] being up there in the standings, things going well in Anaheim, it’s easier coming back than if you come back fighting for the playoffs, or not being last,” Hiller said. “We have a big goal here for us, too, so I hope those guys turn it on quick.”
HEALTH WATCH: Boudreau said center Nick Bonino and defenseman Mark Fistric, who entered the Olympic break on injured reserve, have recovered and are poised to be activated before Friday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
Goalie Viktor Fasth, out since November with a lower-body injury, will play Wednesday in Norfolk, and can play as many as five games there before being required to be recalled.
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