PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- NHL Network Analyst Steve Mears took time away from his Olympic Break to join “The Cook and Poni Show” on Monday to discuss the first week of Olympic hockey and how Team USA has changed his mind.
Mears said that going in to the Olympics he had picked Team Russia to win gold
“There could not have been a more motivated team than this team going in,” Mears said. “I still think they are a team to contend with.”
Mears admits though, his mind has changed somewhat by what he has seen in the first week. He has been very impressed with Team USA and thinks they could have a real shot at gold.
“It’s probably going to come down to a USA/Canada semifinal,” Mears said. “It’s going to be a close struggle and may be the highlight of the entire tournament. Too bad it’s not the gold medal game, but a semifinal would still be good.”
Mears is surprised by the fact that Canada seems to be a bit panicked for a team that went 3-0 in preliminary play.
“Going in, I wondered who would be able to play opposite Crosby and Kunitz. Now, it’s not even Kunitz,” Mears said. “I think they should have been more patient.”
Mears points out that it’s another example of how hard it is to find someone to play with Crosby.
“It’s not easy to play with Crosby,” Mears said. “He is such a blue collar player with a high level of skill. He is matched better with blue collar guys like Colby Armstrong was when he was here.”
Crosby has only two assists in three games for Canada, but Mears thinks it’s just a matter of time before he breaks out.
Mears agrees with the guys that he likes the NHL style of shootouts better than the international rules. He also is not a fan of having a possible gold medal game being decided by a shootout.
“It’s ridiculous,” Mears said. “It would be a shame if a gold medal would come down to a skills competition.”
Mears tells the guys that even though he likes the shootout in the NHL, there are too many of them. He would expect a change to come. He also feels that the NHL has had a good showing at these games and for the exposure and the number of fans they may have picked up from this makes it worth it.
Listen to the full interview here: