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Modano: Maybe USA Hockey 'needs new blood'

STARTING OFF ...

TORINO, Italy -- Dallas Stars captain Mike Modano wasn't pleased with head coach Peter Laviolette's strategy Wednesday, saying he thought Laviolette shouldn't have called timeout in the first period of the United States' 4-3 quarterfinal loss to Finland.

"There was a lot of game to be played. It's early on and we could have probably used it at the end of the game there," Modano said. "Give some guys some rest. A bit of composure and a little less panic and just play the game, you know there's 50 minutes left in the game."

Modano, as we know, was well-rested without benefit of the timeout, having been benched for much of the third period in Wednesday's loss.

The longtime member of the U.S. national team also said USA Hockey hasn't done enough for the players and suggested there might need to be changes at the top.

"Maybe they need some new blood in there to run things a little differently," Modano said. "It's probably time some things changed."

Modano complained that, among other things, the players had to look after travel, hotel and tickets for their families without the help of USA Hockey. Other nations, like Canada, try to help facilitate the planning of those details, but it's a country-by-country situation.

"Basically, we're on our own as far as arrangements, hotels, flights, tickets. I believe that's something you [shouldn't] have to think about," Modano said. "That's something that should be taken care of so we don't have to worry about it and we can focus on hockey and prepare ourselves to play."

Teammates disagreed that there was any kind of distraction relating to USA Hockey.
Family arrangements were all taken care of before the tournament started, Brian Gionta said.

"I have no comment on that," Laviolette said.

He then changed his mind.

"The people that run USA Hockey care more about this program than anybody I know. They're passionate about what they believe in," he said.

GM Don Waddell wasn't pleased to hear of Modano's comments.

"It's very disappointing because I think people at USA Hockey do a tremendous job. There's a lot of pressure on people, and especially a lot of top people at USA Hockey are volunteers," Waddell said.

Tuesday's loss was especially difficult for Waddell. He was the last cut of the 1980 U.S. "Miracle on Ice" team that went on to defeat the Russians and then the Finns to win the gold medal.

Returning to the Olympics as a GM was a significant achievement for the Michigan native, who is also the GM of the Atlanta Thrashers. When asked about the Americans' early exit from the tournament, Waddell paused for about 10 seconds before answering, clearly overcome with emotion.

"Well, it's disappointing, for sure," he said, his voice catching. "But we'll learn from it and find a way to move forward."
-- Scott Burnside

GRUB HUB-BUB

For many athletes and coaches, the quality of food at the athletes' village in this Alpine hub is no laughing matter. An international coalition of the hungry -- from Russians to
Kazakhs to Americans -- has been lobbying their Italian hosts to do something about what they describe as bland and nutritionally questionable grub.

The disappointment has been elevated because this is Italy, where food and wine are national obsessions. But village officials say the Olympians simply can't expect gourmet quality in an operation that caters to more than 1,000 athletes.

"This isn't supposed to be a five-star restaurant," said deputy venue manager Stefano Possenti. "They're not here to drink champagne and Barolo wine."

Those who complain say it isn't just a question of eating well, but of eating right. During the first week of the games, some Olympians said, there weren't enough veggies at the salad bar. Others complained that the hosts had no concept of the grainy, high-fiber breads athletes need. While those problems have been largely resolved, the grumbles about food continued during a recent tour of the village by journalists.
-- ESPN.com news services

STREAKS AND TRENDS

As the Games wear on, there are still some streaks that live on.

Not since 1964 has America gone home from a Winter Games without a medal in women's figure skating. Sasha Cohen, barely leading Russia's Irina Slutskaya after the short program, looks to continue that streak as the competition wraps up with Thursday's long program.

On a different note, in finishing fourth in the women's slalom, Croatia's Janica Kostelic ended a remarkable streak of six straight events in which she had medaled. She can take consolation in the fact her six medals over two Olympics are the most by any woman Alpine skier.

Russia and Canada have been hockey's biggest rivals since the famed 1972 Summit Series won by Canada, when Russia was part of the Soviet Union. But the rivalry has been fairly one-sided in the Olympics, with Russia or the U.S.S.R. winning eight of nine. The teams had not met since Russia -- playing under the banner of the Unified Team following the U.S.S.R.'s breakup -- won the gold in Albertville in 1992.
-- ESPN.com news services