Canada’s gold bittersweet for Staal

Posted by Chip Alexander on February 23, 2014 

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Carolina Hurricane Eric Staal celebrates after scoring the tying goal during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the PNC Arena in Raleigh.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

Eric Staal was up early Sunday and watching. He had to watch, even if it did hurt a bit.

Canada was playing for another gold medal. With a 3-0 victory over Sweden in Sochi, the Canadians successfully defended the gold they won in Vancouver in 2010.

Staal was a member of Team Canada four years ago and hoped to be on it in Sochi. That didn't happen but the Canes captain said he was happy for his home country and the Canadians -- many of them friends -- who played and won.

"They've been pretty sound the last couple of games," Staal said. "They didn't give up a lot the whole tournament. It was pretty evident they were the best team throughout."

After winning in Vancouver, Staal joined the Canes in Toronto. He had the gold medal handy, allowing teammates and others to handle it, try it on.

"It's a great accomplishment," he said. "That group (in Sochi) really came together and got better as the tournament went on and they were rewarded with a huge win."

As for his emotions Sunday, Staal said, "I think any player in my position, there's going to be disappointment you're not part of that team. But I think the way they played as a group, as a team, they made the right choices because they got the job done. For me, disappointing you're not part of that group, but at the same time I know all those guys."

Staal, in terms of watching hockey on television, he doesn't enjoy the "big ice" games as much.

"It's a different type of pace. Less things happen quicker. The way it's played, it's different.

"You see those European teams that played that defensive style -- Latvia gave them a tough time. The entertainment value isn't as high, I feel like, to watch. Nevertheless, I watched the games."

Staal will be 33 in 2018, when the Winter Games are held in Korea. Teemu Selanne competed for Finland this year at 43, so the Olympic window isn't exactly closed, unless the NHL closes it by deciding not to allow its players to compete in '18.

"I would like to think I have some years left," Staal said, laughing. "No question I was disappointed not to be there this year. If there's a chance the players go back to the next one I'd like to be a part of it."

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