Johnny Gaudreau on NHL’s Olympic decision, Flyers comments

Tim and Sid discuss whether people will still watch the Olympics despite the NHL electing to skip the tournament.

It has been three months since the NHL announced its decision not to participate in the 2018 Olympics, yet the disappointment from players still feels fresh.

Earlier on Wednesday, the league’s reigning MVP Connor McDavid told reporters in Toronto he’s still “really upset” about not being able to represent Canada in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next winter.

McDavid’s would-be Olympic opponent, Johnny Gaudreau, shared a similar sentiment when he was asked about the league’s decision in an extensive interview in the Courier-Post.

“Yeah, it’s a little difficult. Obviously everyone wants to represent their country and I’ve had the chance to do that three or four times,” Gaudreau told reporter Dave Isaac. “It’s been great every single time, but I don’t think anything compares to the Olympics. Being part of the Olympic Village and everything like that and watching other athletes compete for your country, it’s just a really cool experience from what I’ve heard from a lot of other players.”

The Calgary Flames forward has represented Team USA on the international stage three times, first at the 2013 world juniors and then during the world championships in 2014 and 2017. He also suited up during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but was part of Team North America.

“It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to do that, but I think it gives some of those college kids and some kids in the AHL a chance to do something that a lot of players won’t get the chance to do at some point in their careers,” he explained. “I know when I was in college I was watching T.J. Oshie four years ago. That’s glued in my memory there, watching that and something you wanted to be a part of, but it’s the way it goes sometimes. Gotta move past it and worry about your season with your NHL teams.”

Much like his Olympic aspirations, Gaudreau’s NHL dream was sparked at a young age — and it started with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Gaudreau got the attention of Hockey Twitter last week when he said he would be open to playing for his hometown Flyers at some point in his NHL career.

He explained those comments on Wednesday.

“The way the question was asked I said, ‘It would be sweet to play in your hometown.’ I think if you ask any player in the NHL if they’d like to play in their hometown at some point they’d all say it would be pretty sweet,” said Gaudreau, who hails from Carney Point, N.J., which is just outside of Philadelphia. “You’ve got friends, you’ve got family, you’ve got kids you went to school with, you’ve got teachers, you name it. You’ve got people that will be supporting you.”

Gaudreau, 23, signed a lucrative six-year deal to stay with the Flames last October, and made it clear that he loves representing the C of Red.

“I love Calgary,” he said. “It’s a great city and they’re so passionate about our team. It’s a real hockey city. I really enjoy it up there, don’t get me wrong, but I think if you ask any player if he wants to play in his hometown they’d say it would be pretty cool to do that.

“I’ve still got five more years on my contract and who knows… if we’re playing well up here in Calgary I could end up staying another four or five years there because I love the city so much,” he explained. “It’s tough to have all those articles come out when it’s something so small, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.