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Michael Russo's Short Takes

  • January 4, 2014 - 5:45 PM

Can he handle the big ice?

USA Hockey official Jim Johansson texted the U.S. men’s hockey Olympians that they made the team. He got through to each, except Ryan Kesler, who changed his number.

“I had one text exchange with a Canadian guy that had a sense of humor to him; basically a 67-year-old guy who can’t skate but [was] willing to serve his country by suiting up for the USA,” Johansson told Yahoo! Sports.

Really big fans

U.S. players didn’t know yet during Wednesday’s TV telecast which players did or didn’t make the team. St. Louis captain David Backes was rooting for teammate T.J. Oshie.

“I saw [Brooks] Orpik and I was trying to figure out the alphabet, see if ‘O-s’ was before or after ‘O-r,’ ” Backes said. “Then I saw No. 74 and I almost jumped out of my chair.”

The Wild’s Ryan Suter thought it was weird when fellow Wisconsin native Phil Kessel was skipped with the K’s. But because Kessel played in the Winter Classic, they saved him for last with fellow Maple Leaf James van Riemsdyk and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.

“It’s just funny how we are all little kids and excited,” Suter said.

Coach will stay away

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, an assistant with Team Canada, said he won’t talk to his three players on the U.S. team during the Olympics. “That’ll be a nice little two-week break,” joked Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

© 2014 Star Tribune