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Olympics-As NHL players reel, countries begin hectic work of building rosters – Metro US

Olympics-As NHL players reel, countries begin hectic work of building rosters

FILE PHOTO: NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Boston Bruins
FILE PHOTO: NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Boston Bruins

NEW YORK (Reuters) – National Hockey League (NHL) players said on Thursday that they were disappointed at not having the chance to compete in the Beijing Olympic Games, as national governing bodies prepared the hectic work of filling out their Olympic rosters.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday that the league’s players would not compete in the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Games due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I’ve dreamed of that for a long time, so (it’s)disappointing,” Boston Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy told reporters on Thursday. “I honestly think it was unanimous that every single guy was going to go if given the opportunity.”

With NHL players representing 11 of the 12 nations competing in the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Games, the global impact of the league’s pull-out is substantial, with Canada and the United States – who are the two most represented countries on NHL rosters – likely feeling the biggest impact.

The league ended a run of taking part in five Games when it elected not to go to Pyeongchang 2018 and the U.S. filled its 23-man roster with 15 who competed professionally in Europe, three American Hockey League and four collegiate players.

“I’m sure there’ll be a couple college players, I’m sure there will be a lot of KHL (Kontinental Hockey League)… the professionals from over in Europe, so I assume I’ll know some people on the team,” said McAvoy.

USA Hockey is expected to name its head coach and general manager on Monday, with NHL personnel no longer available and scant time left before the Games start on Feb. 4.

“In some ways it reflects the process for most World Championships, where most of those teams aren’t named until the weeks before,” said Angela Ruggiero, a four-time Olympian who brought home gold with the U.S. women’s ice hockey team in 1998.

USA Hockey previously said its roster would likely be announced by mid-January.

For Bruins winger David Pastrnak, the Czech Republic’s 2020 sportsperson of the year, watching and waiting as his country fields a team could prove agonizing.

“For European players, growing up as a kid, that’s your dream, right, to make it,” he told reporters.

“This is technically the second Olympics in a row that you’re missing as a player. It’s obviously nobody’s fault… It’s the world we’re living in.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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