3 Stars players, coach prepare for Winter Olympics competition

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA Sports

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 8:10 PM

FRISCO -- The Dallas Stars will send four representatives to the Winter Olympics next week.

Head coach Lindy Ruff will make his second appearance as a coach for Team Canada, while forward Jamie Benn will join him for the first time as a player on the Canadian team.

"There is no bigger stage to perform on,” Ruff said. “I think the focus and the number of viewers and the people watching the Olympics is well documented.”

“It's pretty special and it definitely means a lot to me,” Benn said. "I definitely want to represent Canada well and hopefully bring home a gold."

Stars rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin will play for Team Russia, while goaltender Kari Lehtonen will play for Team Finland. It’s the first time for both.

“I got pretty excited yesterday when I started watching for the first time on TV,” Lehtonen said. “Things are starting to happen there now, and I've kind of started to realize that I'm going to be going there in a couple of days. It's cool.”

The three players that the Stars are sending to the games are just below the league average. The average per team is right at five, but that doesn't come close to Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis who are sending 10 players per team.

Overall, the league is sending 149 players to the games representing nearly 23 percent of the entire NHL.

“It’s great representation, not only from North America, but those players are coming from all over the world,” Ruff said.

The Stars have heard all the stories about the hotel rooms, the bad water, and the security threats, but that's not something they're focused on right now.

“You hear a bunch of stuff, but I'm not worried at all,” Benn said.

“I wish nobody had to worry about things like that,” Lehtonen said.

“You hear the concerns,” Ruff said. “I think everybody is well aware of them. If I miss a couple of meals, it won’t hurt me. I do need water. Everybody needs water. It’s going to be one heck of an experience.”

The Stars will take a 20 day break after hosting the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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