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февраля 2002 года.
Medal all that matters // Chicago Daily Herald
By Tim Sassone
As a defenseman, Boris Mironov goes up against forward Tony Amonte every day in practice.
But it will be different Saturday when Amonte and his U.S. team squares off in a final-round Olympic game against a Russian club that includes Blackhawks teammates Mironov and linemate Alex Zhamnov at Salt Lake City.
Teammates playing against teammates will be one of the more interesting sidelights to the Olympic men's hockey tournament, and none of the Hawks involved say they plan to take it easy on their pals.
Not with gold, silver and bronze medals at stake.
"Tony is representing his country as a patriot, and I am representing mine," Mironov said. "You don't want to be dirty, but if I have a chance to be physical against him and deliver a big hit, why not? You might be helping your team win the gold medal. He will do the same thing to me."
This is the Olympics, to be played on the world stage, not the All-Star Game, and Amonte says he will absolutely play all out against teammates Mironov and Zhamnov, just like he will Friday against Michael Nylander and Sweden in the opener for the Americans.
"If you've got to run through them to get the puck, then that's what you have to do," Amonte said. "There's a difference between playing tough and playing dirty. If Bo looks to line me up, I will be looking to do the exact same thing to him. I've been playing against friends my whole life. It's just another guy out there wearing a different color shirt."
Amonte remembers playing in the fabled Beanpot tournament in Boston when he was at Boston University. In a game against Boston College, he was laid out by defenseman Joe Cleary, who happened to be one of his best friends growing up.
"He knocked me out in the first period," Amonte said. "But it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I came back in the third period and scored a hat trick."
It's probably going to be the most awkward for longtime linemates Amonte and Zhamnov to face each other, though they have done so before in several international settings including the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
"It will be tough playing against Tony, for sure," Zhamnov said. "But he has his job to do on the ice and I have mine. If we go into the corner for the puck, I won't play dirty against him or hit him low, or anything like that, but there are no friends on the ice."
Hawks coach Brian Sutter is actually looking forward to watching his players compete against each other.
"It's like playing against your brothers," said Sutter, who knows a thing or two about how that feels, having competed against five of his siblings in the NHL as a player.
"Look at Detroit," continued Sutter. "They have 11 guys going out of
the 18 or 19 who play every night and a lot of them are going to be playing
against each other."
"What you cringe at is when they have guys lined up and they let them off the hook, because that's when people get hurt," Sutter said. "When players play and give everything they've got every night, you never get hurt. When people start pulling up and hesitating, that's when people get hurt."
One of the more interesting teammate-vs.-teammate confrontations will occur when Canada plays Russia and Mario Lemieux must go on the attack against Darius Kasparaitis, who has made a career out of delivering borderline dirty hits on the Penguins' defense.
Kasparaitis claims at least that he is ready to unload on Lemieux, his owner as well as his teammate in Pittsburgh.
"Yeah, probably I'm going to hit him hard," Kasparaitis said. "I hit everybody, and I'll hit anybody from my team, too. You can't go and just say, 'I can't hit this guy.' You don't try to hurt anybody, but you have to go there and play hard."
Call it the hockey mentality. That's why you can expect Canada's Chris Pronger to go just as hard against Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight of the United States, even though they are St. Louis Blues teammates and come Feb. 26 will be back together trying to win a Stanley Cup.
"If you are in my path to a gold medal, then you are my enemy," Weight said.
Vancouver GM Brian Burke has no doubt hard-hitting Team Canada defenseman Ed Jovanovski would drill Canucks teammate Markus Naslund of Sweden if he must.
"This is the Olympics," Burke said. "There should be no mercy in the