“It doesn`t get any better. The Olympics is a dream come true for every athlete. It`s amazing to see every time what they come up with the atmosphere, the hype...” Vasiljevs told Gerard Cantlon in an interview.
North American fans may remember the speedy forward. He played a total of 51 NHL games at the turn of the century. He scored 8 goals and 15 points in his time split between the Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers and Vancouver Canucks.
He has spent much of the last 11 seasons playing in Germany, mostly as captain of the Krefeld Penguins. He had broken his ankle earlier in the season.
“The injury really threw me back. It happened in the pre-season, and since then I have seen the rehab more than the rink. My main goal was to be back before the end of the season. It`s only a bonus and to be honest, a little surprised that I was picked for the national team,” said Vasiljevs.
Vasiljevs has represented his country previously in 2006 and in 2010.
“Turin was simply breathtaking. Vancouver was very special, because the Canadians are crazy about hockey. The rinks were packed, and some people recognized me when I had played for the Canucks,” said Vasiljevs.
Vasiljevs is one of just 19 Latvians to have ever played. The current team features NHL rookie Zemgus Girgensons and former NHL defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Latvian goaltending legend Arturs Irbe is an assistant coach.
The head coach is Canadian Ted Nolan - head coach of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. Nolan has actually learned to speak Latvian for the job.