(Reuters) – Eric Staal has been named captain of the Canadian men’s ice hockey team that will compete at the Beijing Olympics, Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday.
With the National Hockey League having decided to skip the Olympics after COVID-19 disrupted its schedule, the 37-year-old Staal will lead a team of players who ply their trade in North America, Europe and Russia.
Staal, who did not sign with a NHL club this season after reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup Final with the Montreal Canadiens, was part of the Canadian team that won gold on home soil at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
David Desharnais and 2018 Olympic bronze medallist Maxim Noreau will serve alongside Staal as alternate captains.
“The opportunity to represent Canada at the Olympics is very special, and being named captain is an honour and something I take a lot of pride in,” said Staal.
“David and Maxim are great leaders and players, and they are deserving of this recognition. Our entire team is excited for the opportunity to be a part of Team Canada, and we look forward to competing for a gold medal in Beijing.”
Canada, which won a bronze medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics without NHL players, open play in Beijing on Feb. 10 against Germany. They will also play the United States on Feb. 12 and China on Feb. 13 to wrap up preliminary-round action.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)