A DOZEN years after representing the U.S. at the Winter Olympics, Brian Gionta is back. Spurning NHL offers to stay near his wife and three children in Buffalo, the 5'7" winger has prepared for PyeongChang by working out with the AHL's Rochester Americans. Now 39, almost twice as old as his youngest teammate, he was named the team's captain on Jan. 1.
•SI: What sticks with you about Turin in 2006?
BG: To be honest, disappointment. Great experience, loved every minute of it, disappointed in the [eighth-place] finish.
•SI: What lessons can you draw upon?
BG: Trying to use the youthful energy that guys have, being able to channel it and not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the event.
•SI: Where does that enormity come from?
BG: You fly in, you have the opening ceremony, you stay in the Olympic Village, you're around other athletes and events. You're always in it, whether you have a game or not.
•SI: Pitch me on this U.S. roster. Why can you win?
BG: They're a hungry bunch that wants to prove they're capable and deserving of this opportunity. Probably 75% have had NHL experience, and at some point they've been passed over. They're out to prove something.
•SI: Have you thought about joining an NHL team after the Games?
BG: We'll see. I'm at peace either way.
•SI: Gold medal's not a bad way to go out.
BG: Not at all.