By Brennan McDougal, The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he’s disappointed that the NHL won’t be sending players to the Winter Olympic in South Korea next year.
McDavid told reporters at a charity event Wednesday that Team Canada will not have the same talent at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, thanks to the lack of NHL players.
“It would have been a special group, and you’re just hopeful to be a part of it,” he said. “It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is.
“You want to be able to represent your country on the highest stage, and the Olympics is obviously the highest stage possible.”
McDavid’s comments came a day after Hockey Canada announced it was looking for non-NHL talent for Canada’s 2017-2018 roster.
Sean Burke, the team’s GM, said yesterday that the bulk of Canada’s Olympic team will come from players based in Europe.
The NHL’s reasons not to participate in the upcoming Games include disagreements over costs as well as problems accommodating the Games during its regular season.
When asked whether there was the possibility of getting permission from the Oilers to attend the Olympics, McDavid was non-committal.
“I’m not too involved in all that stuff,” he said.
The NHL Players Association has claimed the league’s decision is “short-sighted.”
The NHL had allowed players its to attend every Games since the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Canada was won gold at three of the last four Olympics, including back-to-back wins in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014).
The last time Canada won gold without NHL players was at the 1952 Oslo Games, when the senior-A Edmonton Mercurys represented the nation.
McDavid has not yet been able to represent Canada at a best-on-best senior international hockey tournament. He was captain of Team North America, made up of players 23-and-under from Canada and the United States, at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.