China’s Olympic men’s hockey roster includes familiar names to ardent NHL fans, most notably “Chelios.”
Jake Chelios, a son of Hockey Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, is one of several players on the team with NHL experience. Others include forwards Spencer Foo and Brandon Yip, goalie Jeremy Smith and Chelios’ fellow defenseman Ryan Sproul.
Every member of China’s first Olympic men’s hockey team played club hockey this season for Kunlun Red Star, a Beijing-based KHL team. That made it easier for players with no Chinese heritage, such as Chelios, to become eligible to represent China.
China, ranked 32nd in the world, was given a spot in the 12-nation Beijing Olympic tournament as host nation without having to qualify.
That spot was in danger last fall, when the IIHF considered replacing China with the highest-ranked nation that had failed to qualify (Norway) in part because of concerns over whether China could field a competitive team.
China is grouped with the U.S., Canada and 2018 Olympic silver medalist Germany. The NHL’s withdrawal last month was a benefit to China, which will not have to face the world’s best players from North America anymore.
Still, it is a very long shot to earn any points, let alone reach the quarterfinals.
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— Kunlun Red Star (@KRSchina) January 27, 2022