Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Cross Checks [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Kessel nervous for Sochi, but still honored

By Pierre LeBrun

One by one, Sochi-bound NHLers are voicing their excitement mixed with concern over the approaching Olympics. The pride of playing for one’s country is balanced by the nagging fear of reports out of Russia regarding possible security threats.

I was at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice on Wednesday after which star winger Phil Kessel was asked by the media contingent about his concerns for safety in Sochi.

"I'm a little nervous obviously about that, but I trust that they have it pretty handled so we’ll see where it goes," the Team USA winger said.

Kessel’s sister Amanda will star for the women’s hockey team as well, a neat Olympic double for the Kessel family.

But that’s where the family pilgrimage will end, Phil said when asked if he was bringing over any other family to Sochi.

"I'm not bringing anyone from my family. I just thought it was better this way," he said.

Then he was asked by another reporter why he bothers playing given all the fuss?

"I think it’s a big honor playing for your country," Kessel said. "I think all the guys love to do that. It’s a real neat experience whenever you get a chance to represent your country. I love playing for my country. I think it’s a big draw for guys. The Olympics are a big stage. Guys want to play. I think the Russian government and Russians will do a great job over there. But who knows, right? You hear stories about stuff going on. You just have to kind of play it by ear."