With NHL players officially expelled from the 2022 Winter Olympics due to several Kovit-19 disruptions to the regular season schedule, Hockey Canada now has less than six weeks to put together a squad of players for the men’s hockey tournament.
Although it isn’t long, Hockey Canada vice president Scott Solmond says work is already underway on what the new roster will look like in anticipation of the NHL’s decision.
“I think we’re always proud to be ready, whether it’s an NHL draft or not,” Salmond said. Interview Fan driving time is Wednesday. “We’ve always had players who have been on our long list of non-NHL players, so we thank them that we’ll be picking players.”
Salmond said Shen Tun will take over as Team Canada general manager in place of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, and Claude Julien will replace Beijing as head coach to replace Lightning’s bench chief John Cooper. He said there will be an organization to fill staff around Ton and Julian, but Canadian hockey chief Blair McKissey has been dealing with players in Europe since September.
As for the players, Salmond said he could include several who are familiar with NHL fans on the squad. ready Canada, which was sent to the Channel One Cup in Moscow earlier this month, offers some clues as to who could be considered. The team with the most players will currently play in Europe, but more discussion is needed before deciding whether NCAA and AHL players will be allowed to play.
“Now we’re watching some videos again and using the network of Canadians around the world, like in 2018, to make sure we can pick potential players and win the gold,” Solmond said.
“I think people will be surprised when they see what our roster is, what kind of players and some of the known names.”
Hockey Canada was expected to end its NHL player roster in early January, and the Armstrong-led board had been monitoring NHL players for more than a year.
In an interview with The Fan Drive Time on Wednesday, Armstrong said that most of those on the list have been selected, but that there are still some decisions at the end of the line that won’t ultimately be made.
“We had our last face-to-face meeting in Florida in the first week of December, where we all met as executives and then incorporated coaches into the calls,” Armstrong said. “Maybe we had three deep streaks, four defenders, two pairs, deep in the back, and at that point we decided we were blocked. Then at this point, we’re going to spend the remaining six weeks. This team is to fill out that roster.”
Armstrong refused to show his hand on who those locks were, only revealing that Nathan McKinnon was among them, and fans didn’t respond to many of the list’s beach-to-beach debates this year. While the roster fans had on their minds when the NHL announced its return to action earlier this year, Salmond said the playing team will do everything they can to make Canada proud.
“They’re not NHL players, it’s not the best, we’ve got it,” he said. “But I know the guys we take and go there are going to have the same kind of attitude and responsibility when we try to bring her to Canada.”