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January 19, 2018

Host Koreans Import Hockey Stars

Korean hockey coaches Jim Paek and Richard Park have NHL pedigree. Paek, who was born in Seoul but raised in Canada, played in 217 NHL games and won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1992. Park, his assistant, was also born in Seoul but raised in America. He played 738 games in the NHL.

The host nation must be somewhat relieved that the world's best are not coming to the hockey tournament. The Koreans, ranked 23rd in the world in both men's and women's hockey, have little chance in this tournament as it is. Can you imagine if Team Canada got a hold of them?

Paek and Park's final Olympic roster includes seven imports, of sorts. All have become Korean citizens and have played for Asian league teams, in some cases for several years.

Goaltender Matt Dalton, defencemen Alex Plante, Eric Regan and Bryan Young, and forwards Brock Radunske and Michael Swift are originally from Canada. Forward Mike Testwuide from the Untied States.

Radunske is the most senior import, having played in Korea since 2008. He is the most popular of the imports due to his good looks. The Michigan State alum has been dubbed "Canadian Big Beauty."

Plante is a former first round draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers. The defenseman played 10 games in the NHL.

Blue line teammate Bryan Young actually has more NHL experience, with 15 games also with the Edmonton Oilers.

Dalton has AHL and KHL experience. Never drafted, he was once signed by the Boston Bruins.

Regan is a former Oshawa Generals defenseman who was signed by the Anaheim Ducks. He played briefly at the AHL level.

Swift is a former Mississauga Ice Dogs forward who played three seasons in the AHL.

Testwiude was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers as an undrafted free agent after a career at Colorado College. He played three seasons in the AHL.

Here is the full Korean roster.

January 18, 2018

Olympic Hockey Headlines: Team Sweden

Team Sweden's men's team features a number of familiar names to NHL fans.

Jhonas Enroth, Dynamo Minsk (BLR/KHL)
Viktor Fasth, Vaxjo Lakers
Magnus Hellberg, Kunlun Red Star (CHN/KHL)

Jonas Ahnelov, Avangard Omsk (RUS)
Simon Bertilsson, Brynas Gavle
Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda Gothenburg
Johan Fransson, Geneve-Servette (SUI)
Erik Gustafsson, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (RUS)
Patrik Hersley, SKA St Petersburg (RUS)
Staffan Kronwall, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS)
Mikael Wikstrand, Farjestad Karlstad

Dick Axelsson, Farjestad Karlstad
Alexander Bergstrom, Sibir Novisibirsk (RUS)
Dennis Everberg, Avangard Omsk (RUS)
Carl Klingberg, EV Zug (SUI)
Anton Lander, Ak Bars Kazan (RUS)
Par Lindholm, Skelleftea AIK
Joakim Lindstrom, Skelleftea AIK
Joel Lundqvist, Frolunda Gothenburg
Oscar Moller, Skelleftea AIK
Linus Omark, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS)
Fredrik Pettersson, ZSC Lions (SUI)
Viktor Stalberg, EV Zug (SUI)

Head Coach:
Rikard Gronborg

The teenage defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will make Sweden games interesting to watch for all NHL fans. The kid is the next great European defenseman.

The team's general manager Johan Garpenlov (remember him?) made some controversial decisions. The most glaring omission seems to be Vancouver prospect Elias Petterson. Petterson is said to be having the most legendary under-20 season in Sweden since some guy named Peter Forsberg.

22 year old Victor Olofsson is the leading goal scorer in the Swedish Elite League so far this season but is not going to Pyeongchang, either.

Sweden's women's team was also named:

Sarah Berglind, MODO Ornskoldsvik
Sara Grahn, Brynas Gavle
Minatsu Murase, AIK Stockholm

Emmy Alasalmi, AIK Stockholm
Johanna Fallman, Lulea HF
Elin Lundberg, Leksands IF
Maja Nylen-Persson, Leksands IF
Johanna Olofsson, MODO Ornskoldsvik
Emilia Ramboldt, Linkoping HC
Annie Svedin, MODO Ornskoldsvik

Anna Borgqvist, Brynas Gavle
Olivia Carlsson, MODO Ornskoldsvik
Erika Grahm, MODO Ornskoldsvik
Sara Hjalmarsson, AIK Stockholm
Lisa Johansson, AIK Stockholm
Sabina Kuller, AIK Stockholm
Maria Lindh, Djurgarden Stockholm
Emma Nordin, Lulea HF
Hanna Olsson, Djurgarden Stockholm
Fanny Rask, HV71 Jonkoping
Rebecca Stenberg, Lulea HF
Erica Uden Johansson, Brynas Gavle
Pernilla Winberg, Linkoping HC

Head Coach:
Leif Boork

Olympic Hockey Headlines: Korean Unification In Women's Hockey

One of the more amazing stories coming out of Korea this week is that the women's hockey tournament will feature a unified Korean team.

Neither South or North Korea are much of a power on the international women's hockey scene. That doesn't matter. What is amazing here is the universality of sport. In a world complicated by politics, religion and gender issues - especially in North Korea - hockey is giving hope.

South Koreans are in favor reunification with the North. They will get a taste of it in a sport most most Koreans might not even know exists - women's hockey.

Sarah Murray, the Canadian coach of the South Korean women's national team, isn't a big supporter of all this. She doesn't care about the bigger picture of politics and global affairs.

“I have mixed feelings about this combination,” she told the Toronto Star. “This had been done three to four years ago, when we started this journey.”

That's an understandable standpoint for a coach who just weeks away from the Olympics has to revamp her team.

Murray is particularly concerned about team chemistry. It seems that the IOC is going to allow Korea to carry a larger roster than the other women's teams, thus ensuring no South Korean players lose their Olympic opportunity this late in the process. Regardless, only 20 skaters can play in a game and a few players will not get to play every game.

Korea, currently ranked 23rd in the world in women's hockey, opens the women's tournament on February 10th. They are in a group with Switzerland, Japan and Sweden.

Two members of the South Korean women's team are transplanted Canadians.

Brampton, Ontario's Caroline Park, who is studying medicine at Columbia University in New York, took a leave of absence to skate with the team.

She will be joined by Danielle Im. Both were invited to the team via Facebook from unknown senders.

Im is a Toronto native studying at Ryerson University. She also has degrees in kinesiology and physical education from Laurier University.

The team also features goaltender Shin So-Jung, a Korean born and trained hockey player who played in Canada for St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia.

A Look At Team Canada 2018

Here is the master list of my continuing look at the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team. I will update the list with each new profile.

  • Justin Peters
  • Kevin Poulin
  • Ben Scrivens

Unknown Canadians: Eric O'Dell

There was never any questioning Eric O'Dell's heart in terms of his love of hockey.

But there once was questions pertaining to the actual health of his heart.

O'Dell is a versatile forward who can play any role you want him to. That's what helped make him a second round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2008. He never got to play for the Ducks as he was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) in a trade deadline deal less than a year later.

Shortly after doctors discovered he had a small hole in his heart that was never detected before. The hole, which doctors believed O'Dell was born with, required surgery and six months off.

O'Dell made a full recovery and no one questioned his heart again. But the procedure did delay O'Dell's development a touch.

O'Dell played four seasons with the Jets farm team in Newfoundland. He also got into 41 NHL games with the Jets spanned over two seasons, but never found a permanent home in the NHL.

By 2016 O'Dell headed to Europe to play professional hockey.

"I think each player knows, depending on the situation you're in with your organization, you know when the time is right to go to Europe," he said. "For me, it looked like I was destined for the AHL again. I have a family [wife and daughter] I have to think about. You want to play hockey, but at the same time you have to think about money and the situation was good over here."

O'Dell has been playing with HC Sochi of the KHL ever since. Playing in the former Olympic city has kept the 2018 Olympics goal firmly in focus.

"This has given all of us such a unique opportunity, and we're all going to work very hard to make the most of it," he said.

Unlike many of the players on Team Canada, the 27-year-old is not discounting the possibility of the bigger picture brightening with a strong Olympic tournament.

"Now I have to think about playing well over here and getting another shot [in the NHL]."

Unknown Canadians: Maxim Noreau

One tactic that Team Canada 2018 is looking to copy from the successful 2010 and 2014 teams is capturing instant chemistry.

That helped make GM Sean Burke's and coach Willie Desjardins decision to include Maxim Noreau on defense an easy one. The 30 year old Noreau plays with the Swiss league powerhouse SC Bern along with fellow Olympians Andrew Ebbett and Mason Raymond.

Noreau, who was named captain for Canada's gold medal winning Spengler Cup team a few weeks ago, is star offensive defenseman known for his ability to skate and move the puck. He has been nothing short of exceptional in the international game.

The Montreal native was never drafted by a NHL team, though he did sign with the Minnesota Wild in 2008. Though he showed he could produce offensively at the AHL level over six seasons, he has only appeared in six NHL games.

With a strong tournament Noreau could attract another NHL offer, though it is said that he really enjoys hockey and life in Switzerland.

Unknown Canadians: Christian Thomas

At 25 years old, Christian Thomas is the youngest member of Team Canada's 2018 Olympic hockey team.

That seems like a funny thing to say in this era where youth rules. But Canada is going with a very veteran team.

Thomas plays with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins this season. Since turning pro in 2011 he has played in 27 NHL games, mostly with Montreal.

Thomas is perhaps most famous for being the son of former NHL star Steve "Stumpy" Thomas.

Thomas left the AHL mid-season to represent Canada at the pre-Olympic Karjala Cup and Spengler Cup tournaments, where he impressed with his hard work.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Thomas said. “I think I laid it all on the ice in these last two tournaments, and I thought I had a good chance (to make the team). Hearing this is, it’s unbelievable.”

Thomas, who was once traded in junior for John Tavares, describes the Olympics as "a dream come true."

He is small but is an excellent skater with a nose for the net.

Unknown Canadians: Mason Raymond

Six of the twenty five skaters for Canada's men's Olympic hockey team are former Vancouver Canucks.

Factor in coaches and management and Team Canada is a Canucks reunion.

Manager Sean Burke and coaches Willie Desjardins and Scott Walker aside, the most notable former Canuck heading to Pyeongchang is Mason Raymond.

Raymond, who infamously broke his back in Vancouver's 2011 quest for the Stanley Cup, returns to the spotlight as arguably Canada's top offensive winger. He and Andrew Ebbett, another former Canuck, are top scorers with SC Bern in the Swiss League. Together they will offer speed and offense and instant chemistry for Canada.

Other former Canucks on the roster include Derek Roy, Linden Vey, Max Lapierre and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

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