Eliot played in a different time, where the Olympics were reserved for amateurs. Unless of course you were Soviet or Czech, but that's an old grudge now.
Eliot, who just graduated from Cornell University (with a degree in agricultural economics), committed to a full season with the Canadian national team and earned a spot on the Canadian Olympic team for the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, putting off the chance to turn professional.
His teammates included future NHL stars in kids like Dave Gagner, Patrick Flatley, Russ Courtnall, Kirk Muller, James Patrick and Kevin Dineen, and also included the likes of Vaughn Karpan, Robin Bartel and Darren Lowe. While the Russians were sending their absolute best players to the Olympics, the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Mike Bossy were unable to represent Canada. It was terribly unfair.
Yet, says Eliot in a new SI.com column, he would not trade his Olympic experience for any NHL Olympics. He says today's players are truly missing something special now that national teams and amateur Olympics are things of the past.
All these years later, I consider myself truly fortunate, even as the scope and magnitude of hockey in the Olympics has grown exponentially. That's the point now -- giving fans the best players and the game more cachet. Yes, finishing fourth back in 1984 stung, but the NHL Olympians of today don't get to share the same camaraderie and experiences that my teammates and I did.It's a great read, and today's must-read story.
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