- Scott Powers, Reporter
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CHICAGO -- Michal Rozsival hasn’t been setting his alarm clock for 5 a.m., but that’s what time he has been waking up consistently since returning from Sochi, Russia last week.
Rozsival has found his body clock to be all messed up after spending nearly two weeks playing for the Czech Republic at the Olympics in Sochi, where it’s 10 hours ahead of Chicago.
Rozsival attempted to combat his sleeping pattern Monday by getting back on the ice with the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since returning on Friday.
“I got back on Friday, had a couple of days that I didn’t do anything and I thought [practice is] going to help me sleep a little better tonight,” Rozsival said at Johnny’s IceHouse West. “I got a little tired because I’ve been waking up at 5 a.m. the last couple of days. I kind of decided I’d get on the ice, get some sweat and be a little more tired tonight and get better sleep tonight.”
Rozsival was hopeful his plan would work as Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put him and the team’s 12 non-Olympians through a strenuous practice at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Monday.
Quenneville had given Rozsival the option to wait until Wednesday to return to the team. The team’s nine other Olympic players may not practice until the team’s morning skate on Thursday.
“It was his choice,” Quenneville said. “I said come back on Wednesday if you want, but he wanted to skate today. He was at the rink yesterday because his son was here at practice and (Michal Handzus') been here as well, but he didn’t skate today. He probably felt that, ‘Let’s get back out there.’ And at the end of practice he wished, ‘Maybe not.’”
Rozsival was still glad he practiced despite being fatigued afterward.
“It was a tough practice for sure,” Rozsival said. “I was here yesterday and I started skating yesterday. It was a tough practice yesterday as well, so I kind of knew what I was getting into. It was tough. I don’t regret it at all. Like I said, I just need to get out there, get my legs going again. Hopefully it’s going to help me have a better night’s sleep tonight.”
Rozsival hadn’t participated in the Olympics prior to Sochi. He had hoped for a better result as the Czech Republic went 1-2 in pool play, defeating Slovakia in the qualification round and falling to the U.S in the quarterfinals. He finished the tournament with zero points, four shots on goal, a minus-five rating and an ice time average of 14:13 in five games.
Overall, Rozsival said he had a positive experience.
“I really enjoyed it,” Rozsival said. “Obviously us as a team we didn’t do as well as we would hope, but overall it was a good time, everything was well-organized in Russia. Everything was really good. Accommodations, transportation, the new arenas there, everything was really nice. Brand new. Just to be able to be part of something like that for the first time, I really enjoyed it.”
Rozsival was hopeful more NHL players would get to experience the Olympics in the future.
“I think (the NHL should remain in it,)” Rozsival said. “The Olympics is the biggest international tournament, and I think they deserve to have the best players playing in it.”
Rozsival wasn’t sure what effect having so many players in the Olympics would have on the Blackhawks.
“It’s a tough one,” Rozsival said. “I don’t think anybody has an answer for it. It could be either or. It could be a good and bad thing because we had six players that played in the gold-medal game and so they might be a little tired.
“It’s up to the rest of us to step up a little bit and carry the torch, give them a little rest. Somebody else has to do it if they can’t. I’m sure they will be on top of their game when they get back. They are professionals. I guess we’ll see how everything plays out when they come back.”