Hockey Canada announced its roster for the 2018 Olympic men’s team on Thursday, featuring an unlikely collection of journeyman players who, less than a year of ago, had little chance of making the squad.
“All the players were crying when we gave them the news,” said Sean Burke, the team’s general manager.
The group came together after the NHL announced in April that it would not compete in the Winter Games for the first time since 1998. The Team Canada selection process lasted 14 months, involving seven international tournaments and more than 100 players, but in the end only 25 of them received the phone call of a lifetime. The players play in seven different professional leagues across Europe, Russia and North America.
All of the players have worked hard for their position. Even the players that didn’t make the team still pushed the roster to the best that it could be, according to head coach Willie Desjardins.
“A lot like other Canadians, they’ve managed to battle it and fight back. They’ve stuck with it, they won’t give up,” said Desjardins,“That’s what our team is about. It’s about guys who have received a no but found a way to make a yes.”
Many of the players are veterans, with an average age of 31 and a combined amount of over 5,500 NHL games played . The roster includes former Calgary Flame Rene Bourque, Cochrane native Mason Raymond and Calgarians Mat Robinson and Brandon Kozun.
“That’s what our team is about. It’s about guys who have received a no but found a way to make a yes.” - Willie Desjardins
The team will be aiming for a third straight gold medal at the Games. Canada’s first game of the tournament is Feb.15 against Switzerland.
“When we go to these Olympics, this team will make Canada proud,” said Burke.
Canadian Men’s Olympic Team
René Bourque (Lac La Biche, Alta./Djurgårdens IF, SHL)
Gilbert Brulé (Edmonton/Kunlun Red Star, KHL)
Andrew Ebbett (Vernon, B.C./SC Bern, NLA)
Quinton Howden (Oakbank, Man./HC Dinamo Minsk, KHL)
Chris Kelly (Toronto, Ont./Belleville, AHL)
Rob Klinkhammer (Lethbridge, Alta./Ak Bars Kazan, KHL)
Brandon Kozun (Calgary/Lokomotiv Yaroslav, KHL)
Maxim Lapierre (Brossard, Que./HC Lugano, NLA)
Eric O’Dell (Ottawa/HC Sochi, KHL)
Mason Raymond (Cochrane, Alta./SC Bern, NLA)
Derek Roy (Rockland, Ont./Linköping HC, SHL)
Christian Thomas (Toronto/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL)
Linden Vey (Wakaw, Sask./Barys Astana, KHL)
Wojtek Wolski (Toronto/Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL)
Stefan Elliott (Vancouver/HV71, SHL)
Chay Genoway (Morden, Man./Lada Togliatti, KHL)
Cody Goloubef (Oakville, Ont./Stockton, AHL)
Marc-André Gragnani (L’Île-Bizard, Que./HC Dinamo Minsk, KHL)
Chris Lee (MacTier, Ont./Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL)
Maxim Noreau (Montreal/SC Bern, NLA)
Mat Robinson (Calgary/CSKA Moscow, KHL)
Karl Stollery (Camrose, Alta./Dinamo Riga, KHL)
Justin Peters (Blyth, Ont./Kölner Haie, DEL)
Kevin Poulin (Montreal/Medvescak Zagreb, EBEL)
Ben Scrivens (Spruce Grove, Alta./Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL)
For more information on the events that preceeded the Olympic hockey team announcement, visit here.
- By Kate Paton