8 years ago, Vancouver was alive with Olympic hockey fever. But this year…
For Vancouverites, there are some familiar names on Team Canada’s 2018 Olympic hockey roster: Maxim Lapierre, Mason Raymond, Andrew Ebbett.
All former Canucks, none of them former top-line players with any organization. And none of them, apparently, are enough to encourage a flood of numbered Team Canada jerseys out of a downtown sports store.
Coverage of the 2018 Olympics on Globalnews.ca:
“Everybody would have wanted Crosby or McDavid,” said John Czvelka, the owner of Vancity Sports on Seymour Street in downtown Vancouver.
“We have numbered up hardly any of these ones yet.”
It’s a sign of a modest excitement, at best, that’s brewing over the 2018 Olympics after the NHL opted not to send its players to the games.
That has left Hockey Canada to select players from other leagues — some of them, athletes that even avid hockey players have never seen on the ice.
“Watching the Olympics will probably be the first time I’ve ever seen some of those guys play,” said one hockey player who spoke to Global News on Thursday.
Among the squad, there are 22 out of 25 players with NHL experience.
There are 13 players who currently hit the ice in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), four who play in the Swiss National League, three in each of the American and the Swedish leagues, one out of Germany and another who plays in Austria.
“They know that they’re going to the Games in a year that’s unusual,” said John Furlong, the organizer of Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
“And they’ll have something to prove there.”
Even if hockey won’t be the same, some still say they’ll cheer on Team Canada this year.
“I think if everybody gets together and just supports the logo on the front, rather than the name on the back, it shouldn’t make a difference,” said one hockey player.
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