Jamaica’s goal is to field a men’s hockey team at the Winter Olympics in the next 20 years, according to the Toronto Star.
“If we can pull this off, you’re looking at an inspiring story and the idea that anything is accomplishable if you put your mind to it,” Graeme Townshend, the head coach and first Jamaican-born player in the NHL for the Bruins, Islanders and Senators in the 1990s, told the newspaper. “If Jamaica can get a team in the World Championships or the Olympics, that’s like a miracle. It’s something that’s so outlandish that I think it actually might work.”
The makings of a Jamaican hockey team have been reported on since at least 2011, but the largest signs of progress are taking shape this weekend with a tryout camp, according to the newspaper.
Townshend, a former skating coach with the Maple Leafs, will be putting prospects through their paces at a talent identification camp at Westwood Arena. At least 30 players, from as far away as Sweden, Alberta and Virginia are expected at the tryouts.
The criterion for players, at this point, has been broadened to include anyone who can trace his heritage to the Caribbean. Townshend said the immediate goal is to put together a team that will tour next summer, playing exhibition games, to both increase awareness of Jamaica’s plan to enter the Olympics and to shake out sponsorship money to help fund the program. The eventual Olympic team must be composed of Jamaican citizens.
Jamaica, known for competing in bobsled in the Winter Olympics, has a long way to go. The nation does not have an indoor ice rink, according to the newspaper.
Several current NHL players have Jamaican ties, including Montreal Canadiens star defenseman P.K. Subban, whose father moved from Jamaica to Canada at age 11. Subban represents Canada internationally.