No NHL, No Problem For Olympic Hockey Says Warriner
Most Canadians wanted to see a gold medal, and they wanted to see it donned by the NHL’s best players. But not every hockey expert, or fan agrees with that.
“I’m somewhat biased but actually prefer the Amateur players being involved,” said Blenheim’s Todd Warriner, who won a silver medal for Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, the last time non-NHL hockey players were the norm at the Olympic Games.
“I too enjoy watching Best-on-Best, but think the World Cup of Hockey showcased that and will continue to. Having amateur hockey players represent our Canada not only gives these players an incredible experience and exposure in hockey circles, but gives Canadians, and hockey fans around the world a better understanding of just how many talented players there are in every country they may not of heard of.”
At this Olympics, those lesser known countries, including the likes of Germany and Slovenia, shocked many, and impressed hockey fans.
For many of the hockey players representing Canada and other countries, the Olympic Games are not only an opportunity to play for their country, but to showcase their skills to professional leagues, including the NHL.
“So many of these players will benefit from their Olympic experience,” says Warriner, who now works as a Canadian Hockey League analyst for Sportsnet, after playing in more than 450 NHL games. “Teams in leagues around the world are watching, and those who show well will get more opportunities, contract offers and a chance to play elsewhere when they other wise wouldn’t.”
For Warriner, this isn’t just talk, it’s lived experience from his own Olympic experience.
“Our team in Lillehammer was a prime example, so many guys got opportunities in Europe, and the NHL after the fact. It was a chance for players to get their foot back in the door with NHL teams and others got contract offers through Europe and Asia.”
With the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics coming to a close, it will be interesting to follow Warriner’s prediction, and see the rising stars from around the globe, who may have got their start, or a second chance, from a strong performance on the world start in Pyeonchang.