‘All they want to do is win’: Canada’s men’s hockey roster set for Olympics

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After evaluating hockey players across Canada and around the world, Canada named 25 Olympic rookies to represent them on the ice at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. Canada will attempt to win their third straight gold medal in men’s hockey, but this time, with a roster which does not include big name NHL players like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

However, there is a significant amount of NHL experience on this Canadian Olympic squad. The roster has a combined 5,544 games played in the NHL with Chris Kelly, a 2010-11 Stanley Cup winner with the Boston Bruins, leading the way with 833 games.

Other members of Canada’s 2018 Olympic team with over 500 games in the NHL include Derek Roy (738), Rene Bourque (725), Maxim Lapierre (614) and Mason Raymond (546).

“We’ve been able to give a lot of players across Canada an opportunity to make this team,” said Team Canada GM Sean Burke at the press conference to announce the team. 

“What I feel best about is we’ve seen our players numerous times…I don’t think we can sit here today and say we missed anybody.” 

Hockey Canada did send five varying rosters to five major tournaments last year beginning in August. Their biggest success came on New Year’s Eve when Canada won the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. Eight players from that roster now find themselves with a ticket to their first Olympic Games.

“The phone calls we made yesterday to players who made the team were incredible. We had families crying, we had players crying, we had us crying, Burke said.

“But then there was the other side of it. There were the calls that were made to the guys who didn’t make the team, and the disappointment in those voices was not easy, but I gotta say that the class that everybody handled this with was incredible.” 

When Canada’s Olympic head coach Willie Desjardins took the podium after the team’s announcement, he recalled one player in particular and his unwillingness to concede a spot on Canada’s 2018 Olympic roster.

“Lots of players are playing just to play on this team, Dejardins said. 

“I look at a Brandon Kozun. He was a top five player last two years in the KHL – a leading guy – and we thought for sure he’d be on the team, and he comes in and things don’t go well the first tournament. He’s supposed to be a scorer, and he’s not scoring…What’s he do? He finds another way to make the team.”

According to Dejardins, Kozun solidified his roster spot by showing an undeniable fire on the ice. Kozun began going after guys in games no matter their size, and listed at 5’8″ (his coach said he was 5’5″ at the presser), Desjardins said Kozun would sometimes pay dearly for his decision to up his physical play.

“We had to name him just because how hard he worked. He wouldn’t accept not making it.” 

Canada’s road back to the Olympic podium will include preliminary matchups with the Czech Republic, Switzerland and the host country, South Korea. Canada opens against Switzerland, the team they beat to win the Spengler Cup, on February 15 at 7:10 a.m. ET.

Canada Men’s 2018 Olympic Hockey Roster

NamePosition Current TeamNHL GP
Justin PetersG Kolner Haie (DEL)83
Kevin PoulinG Medvescak Zagreb (EBEL)50
Ben ScrivensG Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)144
Stefan ElliottD HV71 (SHL)84
Chay GenowayD Lada Togliatti (KHL)1
Cody GoloubefD Stockton Heat (AHL)129
Marc-Andre GragnaniD Dinamo Minsk (KHL)78
Chris LeeD Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)0
Maxim NoreauD SC Bern (NLA)6
Mat RobinsonD CSKA Moskva (KHL)0
Karl StolleryD Dinamo Riga (KHL)23
Rene BourqueF Djurgardens IF (SHL)725
Gilbert BruleF Kunlun Red Star (KHL)299
Andrew EbbettF SC Bern (NLA)224
Quinton HowdenF Dinamon Minsk (KHL)97
Chris KellyF Belleville Senators (AHL)833
Rob KlinkhammerF Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)193
Brandon KozunF Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)20
Maxim LapierreF HC Lugano614
Eric O’DellF HC Sochi (KHL)41
Mason RaymondF SC Bern (NLA)546
Derek RoyF Linkoping HC (SHL)738
Christian ThomasF Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)27
Linden VeyF Bays Astana (KHL)138
Wojtek WolskiF Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)451

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