TORONTO, ON - The Canadian Hockey Association announced Thursday eight players that will compete for Canada's Men's Olympic Hockey team at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, UT, February 8-24.
Executive Director, Wayne Gretzky, along with CHA President Bob Nicholson, Assistant Executive Director, Kevin Lowe and Head Coach, Pat Quinn announced the following eight (8) Canadian players (listed alphabetically):
|Defencemen (3)||Forwards (5)|
|Rob Blake - Simcoe, ON||Paul Kariya - Vancouver, BC|
|Scott Niedermayer - Cranbrook, BC||Mario Lemieux - Montreal, QC|
|Chris Pronger - Dryden, ON||Owen Nolan - Thorold, ON|
|Joe Sakic - Burnaby, BC|
|Steve Yzerman - Nepean, ON|
"The entire management and coaching staff is thrilled by the quality of individuals we are naming to our team today," said Bob Nicholson, CHA President. "These players all have international experience and have been outstanding performers for Canada in the past."
As well as naming the first eight players, Gretzky announced that Hall of Famer, Mario Lemieux will be the captain for Canada's Men's Olympic team.
"Mario is a true leader, a player our whole team will look to for leadership," said Wayne Gretzky, Executive Director of Canada's Men's Olympic Team. "This being said, Mario will also be surrounded by leaders as seven of the eight players have been captains in the NHL."
NHL players will be available to participate in the Olympic tournament beginning February 15. Canada will open the 2002 Winter Olympics on February 15th, versus Sweden. The Olympic tournament opens with an eight-team preliminary round (Feb.9-14) featuring two groups of four teams in separate round-robin competitions. Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, United States receive a bye in the preliminary round.
"It is exciting to see the team begin to take shape today with the Olympics less than a year away," said Pat Quinn, Canada's Head Coach for the 2002 Winter Olympics. "This is a tremendous foundation on which to build this team, a team that intends on making Canada proud."
The winner of each preliminary round group advances to the final round (Feb. 15-18). The final round (Feb. 20-24) will feature the top four teams competing for medals. The bronze medal game will be played on February 23 and the gold medal game will be played .
"This marks the first step in the process of naming Canada's Olympic Team," said Assistant Executive Director Kevin Lowe. "We have several months to evaluate players that will make up the remainder of our 23 man roster, and we look forward to achieving our goal of putting Canada on top of the podium in Salt Lake City."
Canada's National Teams finished the 1990's with 17 medals, including 12 gold at World Championships and the Olympics. These medals were captured at the Men's World Hockey Championship, the Women's World Hockey Championship, the World Junior Hockey Championship and the Olympic Winter Games.
Salt Lake City will mark the second time that NHL players have been permitted to represent their countries at the Olympics.