NHL All-Stars Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan could still be on the Canada Olympic team in February, while officials hope the 25-man roster is largely in place in November.
GM Sean Burke said he talked to the players’ agents on Tuesday morning, one month after Burke first told media that Iginla and Doan were being considered for PyeongChang.
The NHL is not participating at the Olympics for the first time since 1994, which Burke said was the last time Canada didn’t enter as the gold-medal favorite.
It may be an underdog in PyeongChang to Russia, which is expected to field a team mostly or wholly of players from its domestic league, the KHL, the world’s second-best league to the NHL. And possibly Alex Ovechkin defying the NHL’s mandate.
Iginla and Doan, a pair of 40-year-old forwards, are unsigned and could choose international play over the NHL.
Burke on Tuesday echoed what Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said last month, that Iginla and Doan have to play in a non-NHL league if they want to be considered for the Olympics.
“If anybody’s going to play in the Olympics, there has to be a plan for the full year,” Burke said. “That includes obviously playing with us in events, but it also has to include playing somewhere in league play. … Anybody that’s going to play on this team, no matter what their pedigree or what they’ve done in the past, we’re going to consider. We want to look at all possibilities, but there has to be a long-term plan because it’s going to be very intense.”
Iginla played for Canada at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympics. Doan suited up in 2006.
Meanwhile, 45 less-heralded Canadian professionals were evaluated at a pair of tournaments in Russia this month. Burke said a “majority” of the Olympic team will come from that group of 45.
“We’ll get our structure down, and then If we have to bring players in at a later date, I think it should be pretty easy for them to come in,” head coach Willie Desjardins said Tuesday.
While not tipping his hand, Burke noted that the three goalies who combined to play in those tournaments “all performed very well.”
Those goalies all have NHL experience — Ben Scrivens (144 games from 2011-16), Justin Peters (83 games from 2010-16) and Kevin Poulin (50 games for the New York Islanders).
“Scrivens I thought was outstanding,” said Burke, a Canadian Olympic goalie in 1988 and ’92 and three-time NHL All-Star. “As we start out today I think we have three really quality goaltenders.”
Burke added that he wanted to “get our roster down to as close to our Olympic team as we can” by Canada’s next tournament in Finland in November.
“We do have to make decisions before probably the ideal time,” Burke said.
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