In 2018, the dynamic of the draw changes without NHL players for the first time in 24 years, but for USA Hockey, medal expectations at Pyeongchang in both the men's and women's tournaments are still realistic.
Two Manitobans have been named to the Canadian men's hockey team that will compete in the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Without NHL players Canada struggled to find the top of the Olympic podium, enduring a 50-year gold medal drought before finally reclaiming the crown of Olympic champions at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
Per Seravalli, Team Canada general manager Sean Burke "cast a net far and wide to find Canada's best talent playing overseas, pulling in 13 players from Russia's KHL, four from Switzerland's NLA, three from the Swedish Hockey League, one from Germany's DEL, one from Austria's EBEL and three from the AHL".
Most notably, forward Rene Bourque, 36, spent 12 seasons in the National Hockey League with six teams, accumulating 163 goals and 153 assists.
Burke outlined the difficulty of the situation when the team was announced.
"I apologise I can't do this in French, but I could probably do it in Russian". They've jumped from team to team and now are jumping from country to country just to keep their hockey dream alive.
"These guys have earned it", he said.
With the NHL deciding to end its Olympic participation Hockey Canada was forced to cast a wide net to assemble a squad for the February 9-25 Games, cobbling together a team from far flung leagues and countries.
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