Team Canada announced their men’s Olympic hockey team roster yesterday, and a part from a few names, including a couple Manitobans like Quinton Howden or former NHLers like Mason Raymond and Derek Roy, most of the players aren’t that familiar. Which is in large contrast to the last few Olympics, when each player on the team could have been a star from your favourite team or on a poster in your bedroom (that is if you’re a kid, unless your significant other lets you put hockey posters in your bedroom, in which case, jealous). And ya, it’s kind of a bummer that we can’t see Scheifele team up with McDavid and Crosby to take on Trouba and Wheeler or Laine and Armia. Seeing the best athletes take on the best athletes is what the Olympics are about. Kind of.
Back in 2009, if you were to ask me who Alexander Bilodeau was, you would have been met with a blank stare. Now after 2010, “oh, Alex, ya, he was the first athlete to win a gold medal on Canadian soil. Man, did he cruise down those moguls. And when he hugged his brother, it was impossible to hold back tears.”
There were kids who hit the slopes afterwards, ripping through those moguls, pretending they were Alexander Bilodeau.
In 2015, if you were to ask me who Penny Oleksiak was…”Penny ohwhosawhat?”. After 2016’s summer games…”Penny, the swimmer who at 16 years old won four medals in Rio, the youngest gold medallist for our country, ever?! She was just 16!! That’s just crazy!”
There were kids who hit the swimming pool afterwards, pretending they were Penny Oleksiak.
My point is, the Olympics are where stars are born and stories are made. The NHL is full of stars already. Kids, right now, are out in their backyards pretending to be Crosby, Scheifele, and McDavid. Imagine if back in 2010, the guy who scored the “Golden Goal” was a man named Chris Lee instead of Sidney Crosby. Chris Lee, a journeyman hockey player that the average hockey fan has never heard of. A guy who at 37, has put in every effort possible to make it to the NHL, but it just didn’t happen.
All of a sudden there are kids in the backyard, pretending to score the Golden Goal on their little brother, with a friend screaming “CHRIS LEE SCORES!! CANADA WINS! CANADA WINS!”
25 players who have been shut out of lengthy careers in the NHL, or careers in the big leagues in general, now have the chance to be on the biggest stage in the world. They have a chance to go from career hockey journeymen to household names. To become Canada’s next biggest hero. And if Rob Klinkhammer just so happens to score the next Golden Goal in South Korea, you can expect me to try and get his poster on my bedroom wall.