A Unique Experience for Chara
Chara and Slovakia take on Canada
Friday, 02.26.2010 / 10:08 AM ET / Vancouver 2010
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
"We all know it's a big story back home," said Slovakia's Zdeno Chara of Team Slovakia's surprising stretch run to the Olympic Houckey Tournament semifinals. "Everyone is really cheering for us and the whole nation is really excited.
"That's what really matters to us when we play like this and we're hearing the news from back home that all of a sudden people are really happy and are enjoying watching us and cheering for us.
"I am sure it's a big thing back home right now," he said.
Obviously, the Olympics are a special experience, and although Chara has been to the Games previously, and has had a long and successful run in the NHL, he sees and appreciates the opportunity that he has been given in Vancouver.
"It's only maybe once in a lifetime that you have a chance at experiences like this, where you get on this kind of a run and basically get a chance to win a medal or do really well at the Olympics it's so special because it is only once every four years," he said. "And as a player you get a chance to play at the Olympics only two or three times -- maybe four if you are really lucky -- so, I think we really have to enjoy that and just try to do our best.
"Just like we are doing right now," said Chara.
Sloviakia outlasted the defending Olympic champion Swedes on Wednesday by a score of 4-3, just a few hours after Canada dismantled Russia to the tune of a touchdown to a field goal.
"We know that Canada is a really, really strong opponent, but you know, I've said since day one, 'Anybody can beat anybody at this tournament' and we know it's going to be really, really tough. We have to bring our 'A' game," said B's defenseman. "But, you know, Switzerland played really well against them. The US beat them, so they are beatable."
But Chara sees nothing wrong with the underdog moniker, either.
"We've been the underdog for all of our games, besides, probably, the game against Norway. so we are pretty comfortable in that role," said Chara, who added that he wanted Slovakia to seize this particular opportunity; an opportunity that the B's blueliner does not see returning soon.
"What I think makes the whole thing really special is that we all know and realize that this is basically our last chance to do really well at this level," he continued. "We have the oldest team in the tournament and a lot of guys are not going to play for the national team anymore. This is basically their last tournament. We know that after that...these guys are pretty hard to replace.
"When you talking about Ziggy Palffy, [Jozef] Stumpel and [Pavel] Demitra, you know, we have older guys and we know that this is basically the last chance we have to do something really good for ourselves and for the country."
And, of course, winning is the best way to show what your country has to contribute to sport.
"Every time you're playing at the Olympics it's very special," said Chara. "It's really special in the way that every country brings the of what they have and the whole world is watching.
"It's very unique. It's very special."