During Monday’s Winter Classic, USA Hockey revealed the rosters for next month’s Olympics. And because of the NHL’s refusal to release its players (though the IOC is more deserving of the blame), the men’s team is weird as hell:
Captain Brian Gionta, who’ll be 39 years old in Pyeongchang, said he turned down NHL offers this offseason in order to be eligible for the Olympics, and will rejoin the league once the games are over. He’s obviously the biggest name here.
The rest? Because minor leaguers on NHL contracts aren’t eligible either, it’s a motley crew of journeymen and washouts, with just a few talented kids. Here’s the breakdown:
A big part of me wishes they had gone with all college players. As it is, it’s those four (Troy Terry, a Ducks draft pick; Ryan Donato, Bruins; Will Borgen, Sabres; and Jordan Greenway, Wild, who’ll be the first African-American Olympic hockey player, of either gender) who I’ll be most excited about watching, because they have the potential to become NHL mainstays.
(That said, the 1980 team was a bunch of relative nobodies, and though 13 of the 20 went on to play in the NHL, only three or four ever managed to overshadow their Olympic heroics. It takes two weeks to become immortal, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Chris freaking Bourque.)
Maybe there is value in bringing players of all ages, with a wide range of professional experience in leagues all across the world. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that I crave the name recognition of Bobby Sanguinetti, and don’t mind that a team composed of many of these same players went 0-3 at the Deutschland Cup in November.
But hey, we’re off to a good start with the human-interest stuff that the Olympics is so good for. Here’s Bobby Butler, who had cups of coffee with Ottawa, New Jersey, Nashville, and Florida, telling his father that he’s an Olympian: