Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sportsology: Talking to USA Hockey hero Ryan Kesler

Posted by Rick Morris

What a huge coup for our good pal Russ Cohen at Sportsology! The man who scored THE YouTube highlight of the new decade Sunday night in the form of the sprawling poke into the empty net to clinch the win over Canada, Ryan Kesler, shared his thoughts on the Olympic experience. Also, and my father the alum would find me remiss if I did not point this out, Kesler once skated for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Courtesy of our content-syndication under the banner of The 21st Century Media Alliance, here is one great feature.

Kesler is Having Fun on a Huge Stage
By Russ Cohen

A day after one of the biggest wins in U.S. Hockey history, Ryan Kesler, talked about playing in a game that was “fun." Can Team Canada say the same thing with the immense amount of pressure that they have on them to deliver a gold medal while playing on Canadian soil? Probably not, and that’s why Team USA is fun to watch, because the entire team is having fun.

GM Brian Burke handpicked a lot of players who do the little things that you have to in order to win and Kesler is one of those players.

At 25, the Livonia, Michigan product is in the prime of his career. He’s having his best all-around season as a pro in the NHL and now this veteran of international play has a highlight-reel goal on his resume from the 5-3 win over Team Canada in the 2010 Olympics. Even though this was just a preliminary game, this win gave Team USA a realistic chance of medaling and now they’ve got a ton of respect heading into the quarterfinals. When Kesler scored his breathtaking empty-net goal, U.S. fans at the game, online, at home, everywhere, went bananas because they aren’t used to seeing their Team beat Canada under any circumstances.

“Zach (Parise) made a good play to chip out the puck, I was just chasing it and I don’t think Perry (Corey) saw me coming,” he said modestly. “When it was in reach, I dove at it and there was a little luck involved and it found the back of the net.

“I just saw the puck and not the jersey.”

Kesler was so focused on the puck that he didn’t even know Perry was the player he beat until after he had a chance to see the replay. This was an amazing hustle play that showed off the forward’s foot speed, special teams abilities and his ability to beat the opponent to the puck and somehow shoot it into the net with his defender right in his face. This kind of ability is what has transformed this Team USA stalwart into a top-30 scorer in the NHL. He’s currently ranked 29th.

“I’d always like to believe that I was, but it was tough the first couple of years until I found my niche,” he responded. “I take a lot of pride in that. I have great linemates. It’s something to hang your hat on.”

Since Kesler plays in Vancouver, as an American, he is ready for the potential backlash that he might hear at GM place when the season resumes.

“They’ll probably be mixed and they will probably hold a grudge because of last night,” he pondered. “Hopefully, they will be happy that I’m on their side again.”

Right now, this forward has the day off and he’s enjoying that. [NOTE: This interview was conducted and first posted on Monday.]

“The night before games ,we stay at the Olympic village. I stayed there last night,” he revealed. “Now I will stay at home and relax. We (the Canucks) were on the road for 18 days before the break and we will go back on the road for 14 after, so this is nice,” Kesler said.

“I’ll relax and hang out with the family and play some video games and talk.”

Right now things are peaceful and serene and he can spend some time with his two-year-old daughter, Makayla.

Kesler plays a variety of video games and likes NHL 2K10. He plays that against his brother, Todd and his friends.

“We randomize the teams to make it fair, but I’m the best in the family.”

Team USA will take the ice once again on Wednesday as the top-seeded team which is quite an accomplishment considering the talent that exists in this tournament. They have a great chance to medal and that’s all any American fan can ask for.

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