Canada unveils Olympic ice hockey roster

AFP
Canadian forwards Derek Roy (of the Buffalo Sabres, R) and Chris Kelly (of the Ottawa Senators), seen in action in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2010 (AFP Photo/Phillip MacCallum)

Canadian forwards Derek Roy (of the Buffalo Sabres, R) and Chris Kelly (of the Ottawa Senators), seen in action in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2010

Canadian forwards Derek Roy (of the Buffalo Sabres, R) and Chris Kelly (of the Ottawa Senators), seen in action in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2010 (AFP Photo/Phillip MacCallum)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Forwards Chris Kelly and Derek Roy lead an experienced group of mainly former NHL players as Canada will seek its third straight gold medal at next month's 2018 Winter Olympics.

With Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid unavailable because of a money dispute between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation, Canadian general manager Sean Burke drew from six different leagues across Europe and North America to fill out the 25-man roster.

"It has been an exciting journey," Burke said. "We have a very special group of talented players and staff who are ready to compete in South Korea."

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Canada won gold in Vancouver in 2010 and four years later in Sochi, Russia, with a squad powered by Jeff Carter on forward, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty on defence and Carey Price in goal.

This time around, former Ottawa Senators forward Kelly, ex-Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers centre Roy and former Edmonton goalie Ben Scrivens will spearhead the men's hockey tournament title defence in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The 14 forwards, eight defencemen and three goaltenders join Canada from six different leagues with the majority coming from Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. Of the 25 players, 13 play in KHL, while others were chosen from the American Hockey League and European teams.

It will mark the first time since 1994 that NHL players won't be at the Winter Olympics.

Commissioner Gary Bettman pulled the plug on NHL participation last May, saying travel and insurance costs were too high and so the league would not suspend its 2017-18 regular season to accommodate the Olympics.

Former Stanley Cup winner Kelly leads all players with 833 games played in the NHL. The 37-year-old is currently playing for Belleville of the American Hockey League.

Roy, 34, played 738 regular-season NHL contests over 11 seasons, including eight with the Buffalo Sabres. When he left the NHL two years ago he had compiled 189 goals and 524 points.

The 31-year-old Scrivens joins the Canadian squad from Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the KHL, with whom he has played 35 games this season.

Forward Mason Raymond, who scored 25 goals with Vancouver in 2009-10, former Anaheim Duck forward Andrew Ebbett, playmaker Rob Klinkhammer, who now plays for Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL, and former Calgary Flames 27-goal scorer Rene Bourque are among the other notable players on a Canadian roster.

- Determined bunch -

"All of our players, at somewhere along the line, they've been told, 'No,"' Canada head coach Willie Desjardins said. "They're not going to get a chance to continue their NHL career or even start it in some way. They've stuck with it, they won't give up. Our team is about guys who have received a no but found a way to make a yes."

Canada's training camp starts January 28 in Latvia, with exhibition games in Riga on February fourth and sixth.

The team will then fly to Pyeongchang and take part in the opening ceremonies before beginning its title defence against Switzerland on February 15.

Canada has won nine gold and 13 medals overall since the inaugural Olympic men's ice hockey tournament at Antwerp, Belgium, in 1920.

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