When Lightning goalie John Grahame took the ice in Team USA's opening game of the Olympics, he literally had goose bumps and felt a shiver up his spine.
"Those 10 to 15 seconds made the whole experience worth it," Grahame said Sunday after practicing with the Lightning.
But the rest of his Olympic experience turned out to be frustrating and confusing. Grahame did not play after a 3-3 tie against Latvia and said USA and Carolina Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette never told him why.
"Not once," Grahame said when asked if Laviolette ever talked to him during the rest of the Games, which ended with a 1-4-1 record.
Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro played the three games after Grahame's tie, Flyers goalie Robert Esche started against Russia and then DiPietro was back in goal for the quarterfinal loss to Finland.
"Maybe they had a rhyme and reason for everything, but it would have been nice to maybe communicate what the rhyme and reason was," Grahame said. "You know, just so you're not left in the dark. But I didn't get an answer and that was the frustrating part."
Grahame, who had never competed for Team USA, said he thinks DiPietro's international experience might have been the reason DiPietro played so much.
"People say there are some politics involved in those kind of international (tournaments)," Grahame said. "It's tough for me to comment because I don't know. I do think (DiPietro) was a safer choice. If something was going to go bad, it was easier (to explain) with Ricky playing because I think everyone assumed he would play.I think I was probably kind of the wild card.
"I think it would've been interesting to see what would've happened if we won the first game."
Grahame said, overall, he was happy to represent the USA and likely would play again if asked.
"Any time you get chosen, it is a great honor to be considered one of the top players for your country," Grahame said. "But I think there should have been better communication. I would like to know, maybe, what type of situation I'm getting myself into.
"I can understand it was the first time, I really didn't have much (international) experience. But I think I deserved a chance to at least play again. I think if the same situation comes up, I'd like to know: Am I coming here to sit or am I coming here to play?"
BACK HOME: Team Canada's Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle, all a little weary from traveling, were back at Lightning practice Sunday. Lecavalier and Boyle skated, while Richards will return to the ice today.
Marty St. Louis was expected to return to Toronto on the Team Canada charter Sunday night. He should arrive in Tampa today.
Richards and Lecavalier said playing in the Olympics was special, but heavily favored Canada's failure to reach the medal round was disappointing. Richards said that left "a bitter taste" in his mouth.
"There are a lot of good teams there and just because you put on a Canadian jersey, it doesn't mean you're going to win," Richards said. "But that's the pride our country has. Those are the expectations and there's bitterness when you don't get it done. There's nothing else we wanted to do except win the gold medal. And a lot of countries, they just want to beat Canada. They played at a whole new level against us."
Lecavalier said, "The experience was good but, obviously, it didn't go the way we wanted it to and that kind of made it not as fun as it should have been."
KUBINA CALLING: Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina seems fine after being knocked out of the Czech Republic's bronze medal game Saturday on a check from Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk. He spoke by telephone with Lightning head medical trainer Tommy Mulligan Saturday night and Mulligan said Kubina seemed completely recovered after being knocked woozy. Kubina and Vinny Prospal were expected back in Tampa Sunday.