HALIFAX — The mother of a Nova Scotia-born NHL player poised to make a bid to join Team Canada says the league's decision to pass on the Olympics is a deep disappointment.
Lynn Marchand, 54, said even though her son Brad Marchand has won gold with Canadian teams at the World Juniors, last fall's World Cup of Hockey and the Stanley Cup six years ago with the Boston Bruins, the Olympics remained his dream.
The scrappy 28-year-old player from Halifax — who was in the news on Tuesday for a nasty spearing penalty — seemed well positioned to make his first Olympic team, but the NHL announced on Monday it's taking a pass on the 2018 Games.
Marchand says she, her husband Kevin and Marchand's two siblings would have travelled to Pyeongchang, South Korea, to watch had he been selected.
"If he doesn't go to the Olympics in 2018, it makes it a very slim chance he can go in 2022, when youngsters will be coming up in the league," she said.
"The announcement was extremely disappointing. ... We don't know where Brad will be playing and what his performance will be in five years."
Lynn Marchand says she is hoping the league's move is simply a negotiating tactic, but if the decision stands the NHL is removing elite players' chance to compete at their sport's highest level — and for their families to witness the Games.
"The Olympics is such a huge, global sporting event that incorporates the skills of the greatest athletes across the world and it's something that most athletes strive their whole lives to achieve," she said.
Marchand said while she understands there is a cost to the league to participating, she argues the NHL needs to look beyond the bottom line and consider how important competing in the Olympics is to athletes, hockey fans and their nations.
She said she doubts her son will take a position similar to that of Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin, who has said he will go to the Olympics despite the league's non-participation.
"He (Marchand) would probably love to consider that, but to be one to come out and state it ... I think he'll wait and see what other players of Team Canada are thinking of doing," she said.
Marchand is third in NHL scoring and had a strong performance at the World Cup of Hockey, where he scored the game-winner against Team Europe.
The Canadian Press