Nick Leddy smiled at the possibility of making Team USA and playing for it in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It’s just another dream I’ve always wanted to have come true,” he said. “Watching Miracle on Ice, that’s probably the best description of it. You watch what the USA sweater means, not just to players, but to the country.”
It’s a bit amusing as it is to hear Leddy talk about Miracle on Ice, considering he wasn’t even close to being born when that stunning outcome played out in 1980. But you get what he means: to represent your country, to play with its name across your sweater, is something every hockey player strives to do. And several Blackhawks could have the opportunity to do that this winter.
Several Blackhawks were invited to their respective country’s team orientations this summer. Leddy, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane got the invite for Team USA while Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Patrick Sharp got nods for Team Canada. While the orientation invites don’t necessarily mean a player will make their respective teams – their play from October through December will decide that more – the possibility of playing in the Winter Olympics is nevertheless thrilling.
Duncan Keith knows what that Olympic feeling is like, having won gold with Team Canada in 2010 with Toews and Seabrook. And getting a chance to do it again will be welcomed.
“Obviously, just getting an invite is a huge compliment,” he said. “You get that call from (Hockey Canada executive director) Steve Yzerman, you’re definitely excited. And you’ll do anything you can to make that team.”
For Keith, it’s somewhat familiar. But to others like Leddy, Crawford and Sharp, this is a new experience. Crawford has gone from questioned goaltender to a Team Canada invitee, and he can’t help think about being part of the squad come late December/early January.
“That would be awesome,” he said. “I’ve never had the chance to play for team Canada in my career, and to be invited is pretty good. But I just have to worry about playing the season and focusing on each game. If it happens, great; that’s a great opportunity. And if not, then you’ll always have the season to focus on. But definitely, it’s one of my big goals is to play for them.”
Sharp echoed that sentiment.
“It’s a huge honor, and it’s a deep talent pool,” he said. “To be on that list is something special to me, and I’ll do whatever I can to make that team.”