EDMONTON — Brad Gushue knows the thrill of winning Olympic gold. So when the news came Monday of the National Hockey League opting out of sending its players to the 2018 Games, the Canadian curling star was quick to respond.
“I think it’s a terrible decision,” Gushue said after improving his record to 5-0 at the world championship on Monday night. “Just from a hockey perspective, I don’t know how you don’t go to the biggest event in the world and showcase your best players.”
Gushue won Olympic gold in 2006 in Turin, Italy. At just 25 years old, he was able to fulfill an Olympic dream at a fairly young age, something he says has now been stripped from many Canadian hockey players.
“Having talked to some of them, they love the game too. They want to be there. The players want to be there but it’s a business decision,” Gushue said.
“You look at the last gold medal games [Canada has] been in and it’s been electric around the country. That’s not to say it won’t happen with whoever we send, but it’s always nice to send your best players.”
Gushue said even the process of selecting Canada’s men’s hockey roster was part of the fun for fans. It’s another thing lost by this decision.
“Sidney Crosby. Connor McDavid. That’s fun and we’re not going to have that now and it’s too bad.”
Gushue’s third, Mark Nichols, was also along for the 2006 Olympic gold medal run and is equally disappointed by the NHL decision.
“As an athlete and fan of high-calibre sport, I just think you want the best players in the world playing at the biggest event in the world,” Nichols said.
Nichols was just 12 years old when he watched curling as a demonstration sport at the 1992 Albertville Olympics. He said that was the first time he thought about winning a gold medal at the Games as a curler.
“I always wanted to be there and I’ve been lucky enough to experience it.”
For Nichols, nothing compares to the Olympic experience.
“If you’re any sort of athlete, that’s the coolest and biggest event you’re ever going to play in, and it’s too bad those guys aren’t going to get that chance to do it.