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24th of January 2018

Sport



Hockey Canada Gets ‘Geography Lesson’ in Forming Men’s Olympic Team

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CALGARY, Alberta — Canada’s Olympic hockey team will not have current N.H.L. players on the ice, but plenty of players from other leagues.

Hockey Canada drew talent Thursday from seven different leagues across North America and Europe after the N.H.L. 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 N.H.L. stars.

Forwards Gilbert Brule, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy and Wojtek Wolski and goaltender Ben Scrivens are former N.H.L. veterans on the team. It’s the first time Canada will go to the Olympics without N.H.L. players since 1994.

General Manager Sean Burke, Coach Willie Desjardins and Team Canada officials scoured Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League and Switzerland’s National League, among others, for players talented enough to wear the Maple Leaf on the world stage.

At a news conference Thursday, Burke jokingly thanked Hockey Canada “for the geography lesson and the air miles.”

“I apologize I can’t do this in French, but I could probably do it in Russian,” he added.

The bulk of the N.H.L. experience comes from a half-dozen forwards.

Chris Kelly, who won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, leads the way with 833 regular-season games in the N.H.L. Most recently Kelly, 37, who has 123 N.H.L. goals and 166 assists, signed a tryout contract with Belleville of the American Hockey League.

Roy played 738 N.H.L. games for Buffalo, Dallas, Vancouver, St. Louis, Nashville and Edmonton with 189 goals and 335 assists. Rene Bourque played 725 N.H.L. games, notching 163 goals and 153 assists for six teams, including Calgary and Montreal.

Maxim Lapierre played 614 N.H.L. games for Montreal, Anaheim, Vancouver, St. Louis and Pittsburgh. Raymond saw action in 546 N.H.L. games with Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Anaheim.

“When we go to these Olympics, this team will make Canada proud,” Burke said.

Wolski, who thought his hockey career was over a year ago because of a neck injury, played in 451 games for five teams. The blue line is less experienced with Cody Goloubef leading the way with 129 N.H.L. games.

Defensemen Chris Lee and Mat Robinson have not played in the N.H.L. Chay Genoway has one N.H.L. game and Maxime Noreau six.

Goalies Justin Peters, Kevin Poulin and Scrivens have 277 N.H.L. games between them, spread between eight teams. Peters plays in Germany, Scrivens in Russia’s K.H.L. and Poulin for a Croatian team that plays in the Austrian league.

Thirteen players come from the K.H.L., four from the Swiss league, three each from Sweden and the A.H.L., and one from Germany and Austria.

“A lot like other Canadians, they’ve managed to battle it and fight back,” Desjardins said. “That’s what our team is about. It’s about guys who have received a no, but found a way to make a yes.”

Training camp starts Jan. 28 in Latvia. Canada starts Olympic play in a group with the Czech Republic, Switzerland and host South Korea.

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