Canada names men's Olympic hockey team today
Hockey Canada has unveiled the team that will go for a third straight Olympic men's hockey gold medal next month at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Most Canadian fans will need to do some deep research to learn about who's making up the squad, however.
All but three of the players announced 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 squads in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014), which were stocked with NHL stars.
General manager Sean Burke, head coach Willie Desjardins and Team Canada's braintrust had to scour Russia's Kontenintal Hockey League and Switzerland's National League, among others, to find 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,'' Burke joked at a press conference announcing the team. ``I apologize I can't do this in French but I could probably do it in Russian.''
Forwards Gilbert Brule, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy and Wojtek Wolski and goaltender Ben Scrivens are former NHL veterans named to the team that will be counted on will bring big-game experience.
They don't exactly bring the star power of Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Carey Price, all Olympic gold medallists. Still, expectations will be on Canada to bring home its 14th Olympic men's hockey title.
International data analytics company Gracenote predicted gold for Canada in men's hockey as part of a 33-medal haul in Pyeongchang.
Burke and Desjardins used pre-Olympic tournaments such as the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup and Spengler Cup to evaluate over players and build the roster.
``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.''
The 2018 Games will mark the first time that Canada will go to the Olympics without NHL players since 1994.