TAMPA — Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek had a discussion Wednesday morning that had nothing to do with the challenge of defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Instead, it was a about the potential for terrorist attacks at the Sochi Olympics next month, half a world away from Florida.
Karlsson will play for Sweden’s Olympic hockey team while Michalek will dress for the Czech Republic at the Games.
Despite intense security measures — Russian officials have created an “ring of steel” stretching 1,500 square miles around Sochi, including 40,000 security officers, special forces and elaborate sonar equipment — tensions have risen in the past few weeks, with numerous reports of terrorist threats.
Yet Karlsson insists he’s not worried.
“No, not really,” he said. “I think once we get there, it’s going to calm down. I don’t expect anything really to happen.”
Karlsson suggests there’s a media fascination with everything Olympic-oriented and he believes that stories about the potential for terrorism interrupting the Games are part of the package.
“That’s the way the world is right now,” he said. “There are lot of things going on in different countries and people are writing about it and people are reading about it, but at the same time, it’s not really as bad as it sounds.
“All the athletes are going to be very well protected and it’s going to be secure for us. And hopefully nothing goes down. It’s going to be an event that is supposed to be fun and everybody who is there is having a good time. I really hope nobody goes there with the intention of doing something else.”
Michalek, who has visited Moscow and Saint Petersburg in the past, understands there are pockets of unrest throughout the country.
“I’ve heard some of the other cities are pretty bad,” he said. “You hear about all these threats when you’re reading the newspaper, but hopefully everything is going to be secure and you don’t really have to think about it.
“You never know, especially because it’s such a big country, but there’s also so much security that hopefully nothing bad is going to happen.”
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