Canada’s pursuit of a third straight Olympic men’s hockey gold medal will come with a roster full of players from European leagues.
All but three of the players introduced Thursday are from European leagues after the NHL decided it would not release players to compete in the Pyeongchang Winter Games. Canada’s championship teams in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014) were stocked with NHL stars.
The 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders hail from seven leagues across North America and Europe. Of those, 13 play in Russia’s Kontintenal Hockey League.
The KHL, established in 2008, is comprised of 27 teams in four divisions. The bulk of the teams are based in Russia, with additional league teams located in Belarus, China, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.
The KHL has become a popular spot for Canadian players to hit the ice when NHL dreams fizzle out. With NHL players unable to compete in the 2018 Olympics, officials looked to these players to fill the Canadian men’s roster.
“I have to thank (Hockey Canada) for the geography lesson and the air miles,” general manager Sean Burke joked at a news conference unveiling the team.
“I apologize I can’t do this in French but I could probably do it in Russian.”
WATCH: Canada unveils men’s hockey team for 2018 Winter Olympics
Twenty-one players have appeared in at least one NHL game.
Center Derek Roy , 34, leading the way with 738 regular-season games played over 11 seasons. He scored 189 goals and 524 points before leaving the NHL following the 2014-2015 season with Edmonton.
Former Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, 36, had 163 goals and 316 points in 725 regular-season games in 12 NHL seasons.
The 12-nation tournament in South Korea runs Feb. 14-25.
Here is a look at 2018’s team (with hometown and pro squad):
Rene Borque, Lac La Biche, Alta., Djurgaardens IF (Swedish Hockey Leauge)
Gilbert Brule, Edmonton, Kunlun Red Star (KHL)
Andrew Ebbett, Vernon, B.C., SC Bern (Swiss National League)
Quinton Howden, Oakbank, Man., HC Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Chris Kelly, Toronto, Belleville (AHL)
Rob Klinkhammer, Lethbridge, Alta., Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
Brandon Kozun, Calgary, Lokomotiv Yaroslav (KHL)
Maxim Lapierre, Brossard, Que., HC Lugano (Swiss National League)
Eric O’Dell, Ottawa, HC Sochi (KHL)
Mason Raymond, Cochrane, Alta., SC Bern (Swiss National League)
Derek Roy, Rockland, Ont., Linkoping HC (Swedish Hockey League)
Christian Thomas, Toronto, Scranton (AHL)
Linden Vey, Wakaw, Sask., Barys Astana (KHL)
Wojtek Wolski Toronto, ON Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Stefan Elliott, Vancouver, HV71 (Swedish Hockey League)
Chay Genoway, Morden, Man., Lada Togliatti (KHL)
Cody Goloubef, Oakville, Ont., Stockton (AHL)
Marc-Andre Gragnani, L’Ile-Bizard, Que., HC Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
Chris Lee, MacTier, Ont., Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Maxim Noreau, Montreal, SC Bern (Swiss National League)
Mat Robinson, Calgary, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Karl Stollery, Camrose, Alta., Dinamo Riga (KHL)
Justin Peters, Blyth, Ont., Kolner Haie (Germany)
Kevin Poulin, Montreal, Medvescak Zagreb (Austrian Hockey League)
Ben Scrivens, Spruce Grove, Alta., Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
— With files from Global News and The Canadian Press
© 2018 Thomson Reuters