Sochi Watch: 4 Hockey Nations With Gold Medal Chances
If there’s one thing avid hockey fans enjoy more than the NHL, it’s Olympic hockey. The first round of the tournament at the Sochi Games starts Saturday, following the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
This past week, an ESPN survey was taken of 15 anonymous NHL players (an Insider subscription is required to view the full article) who are playing in the Sochi Games, in which they were asked, “Which team will win the Gold?” Though the players were asked to remain unbiased in their selections, there were likely a handful who would never consider picking another team besides their own, so the results may have been a little skewed — but still intriguing.
It seems that in every Olympic hockey tournament, the favorite rarely wins the gold medal. Following a gold medal-winning performance in 2010, Canada is again the favorite at Sochi. But there’s a bevy of other nations that have similarly elite rosters and won’t go away without a fight.
The first round starts with group play, and a team’s luck of the draw can drastically affect its seed in the later rounds, which in turn can make an easy road a hard one in the elimination rounds. Nothing’s a certainty come Saturday, but of the 15 player votes, here are the top four teams thought to have a chance to go home with the gold.