By: Joe Amodio
Team Canada announced its Olympic men’s hockey team at noon on Thursday.
While the team is set to contend for their third straight gold medal at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea; they’ll be without the players you’re used to seeing in red and white.
The 25-man roster is made up of players that are ex-NHLers, undrafted players and players in a league overseas.
- René Bourque
- Gilbert Brulé
- Andrew Ebbett
- Quinton Howden
- Chris Kelly
- Rob Klinkhammer
- Brandon Kozun
- Maxim Lapierre
- Eric O’Dell
- Mason Raymond
- Derek Roy
- Christian Thomas
- Linden Vey
- Wojtek Wolski
- Stefan Elliott
- Chay Genoway
- Cody Goloubef
- Marc-André Gragnani
- Chris Lee
- Maxim Noreau
- Mat Robinson
- Karl Stollery
- Justin Peters
- Kevin Poulin
- Ben Scrivens
Athletes have the chance once every four years to win gold for their country on the largest sporting stage. NHL players, however, will not be given that opportunity due to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) offering less travel and insurance money than in 2014.
Team Canada won’t be the same without NHL superstars Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Connor McDavid, who would have been fresh blood to the team. Despite that, General Manager Sean Burke and Head Coach Willie Desjardins still had an abundance of talent to pick from.
Steven Ellis, an international hockey journalist, said this team isn’t the typical skilled Team Canada fans are used to seeing.
“This is a team that grinds out every single game. If you look at a team that’s comparable, it’s the Vegas Golden Knights,” Ellis said.
“Canada definitely does not have the skill, but what they do have is really hard-working players and a lot of experience.”
There are going to be jokes today made on Twitter about the non-NHL Canadian Olympic team named. We all agree the Olympics without NHL players stinks. But let's have respect for the players selected in their place. They're proud Canadians living out their Olympic dream.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 11, 2018
Ellis also called Andrew Ebbett, a left-shooting centre, “this year’s Sidney Crosby.”
While Ellis doesn’t necessarily believe Canada are the favorites to win the tournament, Simon Gleave with Gracenote Sports told Radio Humber News that Canada will win seven gold medals, one of them being in men’s hockey.
Despite a lower standard people might have for men’s Olympic hockey this year, Ellis said this tournament will be even more entertaining than in years past.
“I’ve maintained for a while this is going to be the best Olympic tournament we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.
In 2014, Canada, in a dominant performance, beat the Swedes 3-0 where they outshot them 36-24.
“When you looked at 2014 it was one of the most boring gold medal games you’ve ever seen,” Ellis said.
Ellis also mentions motivation as another reason why he expects this tournament to be surprisingly exciting.
“There is a lot more on the line. If Sidney Crosby loses a tournament does that diminish his reputation? No,” Ellis said.
“For some of these guys this is their opportunity to go back to the NHL or make a name for themselves and represent their country in an event they never expected to.”
While most casual hockey fans won’t know a lot of the names representing Canada, they have a number of players who are easy to cheer for.
“Some of these guys were close to never playing again. Wojtek Wolski, one of their forwards, broke his neck in late 2016. Here he is on the team. Kevin Poulin was so close to retiring and here he is as one of Canada’s three goalies,” Ellis said.
“There is a lot of great stories and there are a lot of guys who have so much to prove and have nothing to lose at this point,” Ellis said.