January 11, 2018

Team Canada 2018: Undermanned and Underdogs

Team Canada announced their 2018 men's Olympic hockey team on Thursday. 

It is a team that promises to have a lot of great stories, if not a lot of promise.

“That’s what our team is about,” said head coach Willie Desjardins. “It’s about guys who have received a no but found a way to make a yes. Their determination and their heart is incredible.”

Canada will be an underdog team full of cast-offs, has-beens and never-wases. We've known that since the day the NHL announced it would be withdrawing their players from the Olympics.

We know the lack of a best-on-best on tournament will provide little hype and, combined with the time zone differences, little interest.

But that doesn't mean the hockey tournament will not be entertaining or compelling.

For Desjardins, his job motivating his group and bringing them together should be pretty easy. Embrace the underdog role, as a team and individually. In many ways these players are like brothers, all having different but similar challenges in their vagabond hockey careers.

And his target is easy. Just like in so many Olympics prior to NHL participation, the Russians were the heavy favorites to win. They were called the Soviets then. They're going to be called the Olympic Athletes from Russia now, thanks to the state-sponsored doping scandal.

For Canada, it is an approach that really worked well in 1994 - the last non-NHL Olympics. Yes, that team had super-prospect Paul Kariya and NHL hold out Petr Nedved, but for the most part that was a team full of highly motivated discards who did their country proud.

Tom Renney coached that 1994 team. He's now the CEO of Hockey Canada. His experienced fingerprints are all over this game plan.

It was an easy sell to his hand picked general manager Sean Burke, Canada's Olympic hockey goalie in 1988 and 1992. He knows the story lines all too well.

Same goes for Dave King, who essentially managed and coached Canada's Olympic program in the 1980s and early 1990s. He's Desjardins assistant in 2018, but no one knows the story line better than him.

For Renney, Burke and King, they all hope the story has a golden ending. They know their team is undermanned and underdogged, but they know they will get every ounce of heart and sweat out of proud Canadians who will capture the nation's heart once the puck is finally dropped in Pyongchang, Korea.

The 25-man roster is made up of players that are ex-NHLers, undrafted players and players in a league overseas.
  • René Bourque
  • Gilbert Brulé
  • Andrew Ebbett
  • Quinton Howden
  • Chris Kelly
  • Rob Klinkhammer
  • Brandon Kozun
  • Maxim Lapierre
  • Eric O’Dell
  • Mason Raymond
  • Derek Roy
  • Christian Thomas
  • Linden Vey
  • Wojtek Wolski
  • Stefan Elliott
  • Chay Genoway
  • Cody Goloubef
  • Marc-André Gragnani
  • Chris Lee
  • Maxim Noreau
  • Mat Robinson
  • Karl Stollery
  • Justin Peters
  • Kevin Poulin
  • Ben Scrivens

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