Their Olympic medals aren't even stored for safekeeping yet, but the Kings and Ducks who won them are rapidly returning to the ice as the NHL season resumes.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and forward Dustin Brown, both silver medalists on the U.S. team, stepped onto the rink at the Kings' practice facility in El Segundo Monday morning by 10 -- about 19 hours after Canada won the gold in overtime in Vancouver.
The pair rode the bus back to the Olympic Village after the game, caught a cab that took them to a car they had reserved and then rode to Bellingham, Wash., where they caught a Sunday evening flight that got them home by 11.
After practice Monday, they boarded a flight to Dallas, where the Kings play the Stars on Tuesday night. Canadian defenseman Drew Doughty -- the first active King to win a gold medal -- and U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson were meeting the team in Texas.
"I got a chance to sleep in my bed for at least one night," said Brown, the Kings' captain. "Last night was the biggest game of my career. The outcome was not what I wanted, but it was definitely a lifetime experience for me.
"It's going to be difficult to flip the switch, but I'm sure I'll find a way to do it."
Opponents in the feverishly intense gold-medal game, he and Doughty will be roommates Tuesday night.
"I'm happy that he won, obviously, but when we got back here, the Olympics are over," Brown said. "For all the guys that participated, that needs to be our mind-set. We're a King again. We've got to come together and play."
The Ducks have an extra day to recuperate, with their first game Wednesday at home against Colorado.
Seven of the Ducks' eight Olympians -- including Canadian gold medalists Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry -- are returning to practice Tuesday after a day off Monday.
Goalie Jonas Hiller,A?a??A?A brilliant in netA?a??A?A for Switzerland during the Games,A?a??A?A rejoined the team earlier. He had plenty of action in the Olympics too, going 2-2-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
But Quick, the third goaltender for the U.S. team, didn't play at all and didn't get the usual amount of action in practice.
"It's tough up there to try to get a lot of work in," said Quick, who has excelled for the Kings, with a 35-17-3 record and a 2.53 goals-against average. "I wanted to get back for practice before the game" against Dallas. "That was the main reason I came back" Sunday.
Coach Terry Murray will watch closely.
"I have a little bit of concern for it, absolutely," he said. "I know when you go to these kinds of a tournament, there's not a lot of quality practice time, especially when you're the third man on the totem pole. And you end up playing probably four or five afternoon games, so you don't have the morning skate to get the work.
"It's a big month for us, and he's our key guy and we have to get him back into the game physically and mentally. I think he's ready to go. It's just a matter of getting his game condition going and that's only going to happen with playing games."
The Kings, fifth in the Western Conference standings, have a bit of a cushion. The Ducks, in 11th place and three points out of the final playoff spot, are trying to claw their way into position with a handful of other teams. The seven Ducks who won medals were the most of any NHL team, but that also could carry a price in mental and physical exhaustion. The Kings are counting the pressure and intensity as a bonus, particularly for their young players.
"That's probably the one comparison, is maybe a must-win Stanley Cup finals game," Brown said. "I haven't experienced any playoff games, period, so I hope to be involved in that. I think it's a big help for everyone who played."
Doughty, in particular, played crucial minutes for Canada.
"Absolutely incredible. For just turning 20 years old, to be put in that kind of situation, not only the Olympics, but then to be put in the critical situations of games," Murray said.
He also cited Doughty's pressure-packed performance in the gold-medal game. "It looked like he was 30 years old," Murray said.
Besides the resumed schedule, another event looms quickly: the NHL trade deadline at noon Wednesday.
The Ducks made a small move Monday, sending forward Evgeny Artyukhin to Atlanta for defenseman Nathan Oystrick, who is recovering from a broken jaw and will remain with minor league Chicago inA the American Hockey League for now. The Ducks also acquired a conditional pick in the 2011 draft. The move allows the Ducks room to keepA productive, high-energyA rookie Dan Sexton in the NHL. Sexton, who has nine goals and 18 points in 28 gameA had been scheduled to go to minor league affiliate Bakersfield.A
The Ducks would like to add a defenseman or make other upgrades, but relatively few teams are "selling."