With the news that the NHL and IIHF approving the participation of NHL players in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, hockey fans’ eyes went to their team’s rosters. Who would be the next round of players representing both Team USA and the Blues? Could we look forward to another incredible story like T.J. Oshie’s shootout heroics against Russia, or the David Backes Hates Canada Tour?
Blues fans have been spoiled by the number of Olympians that they have had in 2010 and 2014. In 2010, David Backes, Erik Johnson and Roman Polak skated. In 2014, the Blues’ participation skyrocketed: Backes, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrik Berglund, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Sobotka, Jaroslav Halak, Jay Bouwmeester, and Alex Pietrangelo were all called on to represent their home countries. Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo brought home gold; Steen and Berglund silver.
Of course, there was no participation in the 2018 games due to the NHL not being able to come to terms with the IIHF and the IOC, so 2022 is the league’s first chance in almost a decade to participate on the biggest stage in the world.
You could look at how many members of the Blues are going to be selected - and I was going to for this post - but Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic beat me to the punch (subscription required). He doesn’t seem to think any member of the Blues right now is a lock - Ryan O’Reilly is a maybe for Team Canada, as is Pavel Buchnevich for whatever Russia is calling itself next year. Tarasenko may be called on for Russia again as well if he’s healthy, but if he’s a Blue by the time the Olympics begin it’d be a surprise. Personally, I think that Justin Faulk has better odds of making the Team USA roster than JR does, but I do agree with Rutherford that it’ll take a strong first half to remind Team USA that he’s out there.
The Blues have many good players, but so do many other teams. Team Canada especially is stacked. With a dearth of players from the Blues who will crack their nations’ rosters, Blues fans might have to look elsewhere for players to support outside of just rooting for Team USA. Thanks to a Twitter suggestion, here are former Blues who should be favorites to make their nation’s teams (based on NHL rosters current as of 9/12):
- Alex Pietrangelo - the former Blues’ captain’s aged incredibly well and had a successful first season in Vegas. He may no longer be a first pairing Olympic defenseman, but Doug Armstrong’ll be asking for a reunion with Petro just this once.
- Pat Maroon - we all know if Maroon is selected to the American team, a gold medal is a lock. That’s how the universe works now.
- T.J. Oshie - you never can be too prepared for a shootout.
You know what? Just root for Team USA (or Team wherever you’re from). This year’s selection of Olympians either of current or former Blues might be the most sparse since 2010.