Goyette feels Olympic excitement, talks of pressure of the maple leaf

Danielle Goyette wishes she could be in Vancouver for the start of the Olympics. That’s probably a natural reaction for any former Olympic athlete, considering how rare the opportunity to compete in front of home fans on the highest and brightest stage in the world is.

“Its getting closer to the opening ceremony,” says the three-time Olympian, double gold, single silver medalist. “You can feel it, people are getting excited.”

And Goyette is sharing in that excitement, even as she prepares to coach her Dinos women’s hockey team through the final games of the season. She retired from international hockey after a career during which she won eight world championships with the Canadian women’s hockey team and amassed 113 goals and 105 assists in 171 games.

She knows the pressure that comes with wearing the maple leaf on a hockey jersey and has been in constant communication with her ex-mates.

“They’re texting me right now, ‘Danielle, it’s crazy in Vancouver, so many media,’ ” says Goyette. “I told them, ‘Enjoy every moment of this, but when the puck drops you must focus.’ “

“If you start thinking about the results first instead of the process, that’s where you get in trouble,” she adds.

And the results, or at least the expected results, are obvious for the Canadian women’s team in Vancouver: gold or bust. This isn’t new, says Goyette.

“Expectations are not bigger in Vancouver, the only thing is that you have more people watching the game,” she explains.

Expectations of a different sort have plagued women’s hockey at the international level for years now. Canada and the U.S. are expected to beat everyone and the rest of the teams will barely score any goals against the big two. Even that hasn’t changed despite Sweden’s surprising takedown of the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

“I thought at that time that, ‘Wow, this is great for women’s hockey, this is going to give a boost for Sweden to work harder for the next Olympics,’ ” says Goyette. “But they went back to the same routine and they didn’t push too hard.”

She explains it’s largely an issue of funding. The American and Canadian teams train fulltime from August until the Olympics. There just isn’t money committed to do that in Russia, Sweden or Finland.

“The years between the Olympics, the teams are closer together,” says Goyette. “When you get to the Olympics, you see a big difference between the teams.”

With that added practice time for Canada and the U.S. comes the added stakes. They need to win. Gold or bust. Besides perhaps not playing their best, there aren’t any excuses for falling short. There are almost as many staff as there are players for the women’s hockey team, and the athletes get what they need when they need it.

“Every time they need something, they get it,” says Goyette. “They’re going to be able to perform at their best. They won’t fail because they didn’t get something, or whatever. If they fail it’s because the other team was better that day.”

Across all sports, Canadian athletes have been preparing for Vancouver since it won the bid. And Goyette believes they’re ready for the challenge.

“I have no doubt in my mind we’ll have the best result, ever, at the Olympics.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.