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With no NHLers set to take the ice at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea next month, a rare opportunity for amateurs and minor-professionals to dawn the maple leaf for Canada’s Men’s Hockey Team will present itself to a select few.
But at least one player on the club’s radar has declined an invite to the Games, as defenceman Cale Makar has reportedly said thanks-but-no-thanks to Hockey Canada brass.
Makar was nothing short of a star for Canada at the most recent World Juniors, leading the Canadian defence corps in scoring and tying for the overall tournament points-lead among blueliners with three tallies and five assists — despite playing the least amount of minutes among the Canucks’ seven D-men. He showed an uncanny ability to walk the blue line and find open shooting lanes from the point, and established himself as a power-play specialist for a Canadian side that tore it up with the man advantage until it met a formidable Sweden penalty kill in the gold medal game.
As reports of Makar’s decision came down Wednesday, it’s not hard to see why the 19-year-old declined an invite to head to South Korea in February.
The aforementioned power play prowess is what likely earned Makar the invite from Team Canada, and it’s quite possible that the only time the young blueliner would see the ice is with the man advantage. As a freshman anchoring a blue line at Umass-Amherst after making the leap from Tier-II Junior A to NCAA Division 1, another month away from his college team spent sitting on the bench rather than developing could certainly hinder the progress of the 2017 No. 4 overall pick as he tries to make his next steps towards cracking the Colorado Avalanche’s roster sometime in the not-too-distant future.
The prestige of the opportunity to win an international gold medal for Canada doesn’t have the same intrigue as it would in other cases, either, as Makar is literally days removed from capturing gold at a true best-on-best tournament.
Canada’s official roster for the Games is set to be announced Thursday.
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