Whether your team won or lost the Super Bowl (or didn't even make it there), it's time to move on, because as sports fans (and Americans) we have bigger fish to fry when Team USA competes in the Winter Olympic Games beginning Feb. 6. (Right here on NBC!) Sorry, we got a little excited there. Almost as excited as we are to report that our favorite hockey doc, Mayo's own Michael Stuart, M.D., will once again represent his country as the team physician for the Team USA men's hockey team.
Dr. Stuart, as you may recall from past reports, is no stranger to hockey. In fact, it pretty much runs in his family. According to his bio on the USA Hockey website, all four of his children have "excelled in the game of hockey." And they mean "excelled." His three sons have all played in the National Hockey League and his daughter has played "Division I hockey." So yeah, the Stuart family knows a thing or two about hockey. And Dr. Stuart knows a thing or two about the Olympics, having served as chief medical officer for USA Hockey for the past 12 years.
"This will actually be my fourth Olympics, but only my second as the men's team physician," he recently told Rochester's KTTC-TV. "I go to their practices, I go to their team meetings, have meals together, I go to all the games, so it's really a busy time, but very, very fun." (And none of us are very, very envious.) Dr. Stuart says his main focus at the games in Sochi, Russia, will be on making sure the team stays healthy, including those players who are coming to Sochi with injuries. "We also have to remember that the National Hockey League is in full swing, and many of our players currently have some nagging injuries," he tells KTTC.
Dr. Stuart tells Minnesota Public Radio that he sees it as his responsibility to find a balance between putting the best team on the ice and making sure that all players are no worse for wear when they return to their respective NHL teams. "It's an interesting dynamic -- the NHL is very involved in the Olympic games," Dr. Stuart says. "So, we do have a responsibility to maintain open lines of communication with the medical staff for each NHL team, in addition to their general manager, during the games."
The first order of business, however, is making sure the players are properly adjusting to their temporary home. "First of all, there's sleep issues, because there's quite a time change, and a lot of travel involved, so we'll ensure that they're getting their proper sleep," he tells KTTC. "The main thing is trying to make sure that these guys don't get sick, because we need them. It's a very short tournament, and keeping them healthy is my primary goal."
Team USA takes the ice for the first time in Sochi on Thursday, Feb. 13, against Slovakia. You can find the team's full Olympic schedule here. Then, be sure to share your comments below.