Whether it was too much holiday sun, the result of a gruelling back-to-work fitness test or a combination of both, there were so many red faces at Rexall Place Wednesday it looked like they just had a tomato fight. There were a lot of smiles, though. While almost every NHL player dreams of being in the Olympic tournament, getting 12 days off in the middle of the season to kick off the skates and park yourself in front of an ocean is a glorious consolation prize. Hence the sunburns and smiling faces. Jordan Eberle has some good colour, Ryan Smyth is already peeling, Kelly Buchberger looks like George Hamilton and the training staff looks like it should be served with bibs and butter. “There’s a few guys who came back pretty red,” said Eberle. “But our trainers probably took the cake — a few of them look like lobsters. “That’s good. You want to give yourself a little bit of a break, get away from the game.” “It would have been nice to be playing in the Olympics, but I had some great family time, it was awesome,” said Smyth. “Went down to Mexico. You don’t get to do that very often in a hockey year.” But the fun is over; it’s back to work now and the players seem recharged and ready to go. “I stayed active, so it’s not like you’re just sitting around doing nothing the whole time,” said Andrew Ference. “It’s nice to come back pretty refreshed. With the condensed schedule, you need a break.” The players weighed in before they left and were tested upon their return to Edmonton, just to see how everyone made it through the Olympic hiatus. It’s tempting to treat it like most of us would treat a holiday — sit on the beach and stuff our faces with booze and junk food — but there are still 22 games worth of season left to play. Rolling in 12 pounds heavy wouldn’t be cool.
‘Entergized’ Eberle, other Oilers players return to the rink after their Olympic break
Edmonton Sun | Feb 20