Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) -- Ted Nolan and Zemgus Girgensons got back to Buffalo at about 6:30 Thursday night after almost leading Latvia to an upset over Canada in the quarterfinals of the Olympics.
Nolan was on the ice for the Sabres first practice after the break, but Girgensons said he was resting and getting treatment.
Both men loved the experience of the Olympic Games. Girgensons said, “It was amazing, just to be there and the accomplishment our men did there for the country, it was awesome to make the quarterfinals and play Canada.”
Latvia lost its first game in the final seven seconds, but Girgensons said they had to let it go, “Definitely, I think each game we battled hard and each game we made our opponents sweat. Of course the first loss was a tough one with just seven seconds left, but we got the rematch for the qualifier and we beat them there so that was the important thing.”
I remember seeing a quote Girgensons gave to the Buffalo News after the first game that he was tired in the first period of the first game after a long trip there. He said, “It was probably one of the most tiring things I’ve had in a long time. Even the World Championship last year wasn’t as hard. It was a nine hour time difference and that was pretty bad.”
Buffalo fans are well aware of how Ted Nolan can motivate a team. With that in mind, Girgensons wasn’t surprised with what they did, “Definitely, we believed in ourselves since the first day we got there, even before just looking at the paper, I knew it was the best team that Team Latvia has had in a long, long time so I was hoping we could accomplish something good.” Nolan said, “I couldn’t have been more proud of a group. It doesn’t matter what your skill set is, it matters about your will and your desire and the one thing the Latvians surely did was prove to the world that they can compete with the best in the world.”
For the coaches and athletes the Olympic Games is a total experience, not just hockey. Girgensons loved the whole thing, “Just to live in the village and see the athletes walk around was really cool just to see from other sports the best athletes, but besides that I didn’t get to see much. I didn’t get to the mountains to see the skiing stuff and I’m not interested in speed skating or figure skating.”
Ted Nolan took advantage even more. Nolan said, “We left the game at the rink. Once we were done with hockey we went to other events, we went to curling, went to speed skating, went to the downhill skiing, but probably the best thing about the whole event was heading into the cafeteria where all the athletes eat. It was kind of cool, meeting guys from Toga, I didn’t know where Toga was. We met a Prince who was an Alpine Skier representing Mexico, it was one of those experiences I’ll never forget.”
To be able to see many Olympic events was something Nolan had never experienced, “Not even close, I’ve been to the Stanley Cup Final, but to watch the Olympics is a whole different thing and you see all the top athletes of the world, so it was just one of those unique opportunities that I’ll never forget.”