PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—Without any NHL players participating in the Olympics this year for the first time since 1994, the level of play in Pyeongchang is simply not what it’s been at previous Winter Games. Obviously, no team is as handicapped by this decision as the U.S. The roster that includes just four college kids and whole bunch of journeyman eking out careers abroad has not gotten off to a great start. But when we caught up with James Wisniewski earlier this week, the defenseman insisted that even if the guys on the team might not be All Stars, they’re still good enough to play in the NHL.
Wisniewski, who had stints with six different NHL teams between 2006 and 2016, was trying and failing to get back into the league when Jim Johannson, the former Olympic team general manager who died unexpectedly in January, told him to find a team elsewhere to get in shape for the Olympics. He was coming off his fourth ACL knee injury but found a temporary team in Kassel, Germany. Now he’s even further from home in South Korea, but still hoping his performance here makes an impression on the NHL.