(Reuters) – Two-times gold medallist Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo were named on Monday in the Canadian men’s ice hockey team’s initial squad for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Participating countries were asked to declare three players and there were no surprises in Canada’s early selections given National Hockey League players are set to return to the Olympics after the league skipped the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
For the 34-year-old Crosby, who scored the Olympic gold-medal-winning goals in both 2010 and 2014, this will mark his third Olympics.
Crosby served as Canada’s alternate captain in 2010, where he scored the overtime winner against the United States to win gold, and was captain of the squad that went undefeated at the Sochi Olympics.
McDavid, a 24-year-old forward whose incredible skills and offensive prowess earned him NHL most valuable player honours last season for the second time since he broke into the league in 2015, will make his Olympic debut in Beijing.
The 31-year-old Pietrangelo, a solid defender who can rush the puck up the ice and make offensive plays, made his Olympic debut in Sochi.
The final squad list for the 23-man Canadian team will be revealed in January.
Canada open the Feb. 9-20 men’s ice hockey competition against Germany on Feb. 10.
The NHL, unhappy over the prospect of interrupting its season to send their most valuable assets overseas where they could get hurt, ended a run of five consecutive Winter Olympics when it decided not to go to Pyeongchang in 2018.
But the NHL has since worked out a deal with both the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee to send its players to Beijing.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)