CALGARY, ALBERTA – Hockey Canada unveiled the men’s team aiming for a third straight Olympic hockey gold medal next month at the Pyeongchang Games, and most players are not household names.
All but three are from European-based leagues after the NHL bowed out of competing in South Korea. That’s in stark contrast to Canada’s Olympic champion teams in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014), which were loaded with NHL stars.
Forwards Gilbert Brule, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy and Wojtek Wolski and goaltender Ben Scrivens are former NHL veterans on the team. It’s the first time Canada will go to the Olympics without NHL players since 1994.
General manager Sean Burke, coach Willie Desjardins and Team Canada officials scoured Russia’s Kontenintal Hockey League and Switzerland’s National League, among others, for players talented enough to wear the Maple Leaf on the world stage.
“I have to thank (Hockey Canada) for the geography lesson and the air miles,” said Burke, joking at a news conference Thursday. “I apologize I can’t do this in French, but I could probably do it in Russian.”
They don’t exactly bring the star power of Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Carey Price, all Olympic gold medalists. Still, expectations are Canada will bring home its 14th Olympic men’s hockey title.
Burke and Desjardins used pre-Olympic tournaments such as the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup and Spengler Cup to evaluate players.
“These guys … they earned it,” Burke said. “We saw them play, we had numerous events and every one of them represented our jersey like we expect Canadians to do.”