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Former N.S. Olympian high on Team Canada's chances in Pyeongchang

Despite not having a single NHL player in the lineup at this year's winter Olympics, Canada still has a solid shot at winning the gold, according Fabian Joseph.

Captain of Canadian squad at 1994 Games says coaching staff will have team well-prepared

Canadian hockey player Fabian Joseph, seen in this 1992 photo, celebrates his third-period goal against the Czechoslovakian Olympic hockey team during the semifinals in Meribel, France. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Despite not having a single NHL player in the lineup at this year's winter Olympics, Canada still has a solid shot at winning the gold, according to the captain of Canada's 1994 Olympic silver medal team.

Fabian Joseph of Sydney, N.S., told CBC that while the NHL's refusal to release any of its players for the Pyeongchang, South Korea, games has disappointed dozens of elite professional players, it's not a huge disadvantage to Canada.

"It's all relative because none of the other countries will be using NHL players," said Joseph, who remembers the tight-knit teams he was part of in 1992 in Albertville, France, as well as Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994.

Those teams had no NHL personnel but Joseph recalls that it was a very special and satisfying experience in which you truly got to know your teammates, compared with other years, when teams are assembled quickly, mostly from NHL clubs, to perform at the Olympics.

Canada's Olympic hockey roster is littered with former NHL players and those currently playing in Russia's KHL, the American league and Europe, including clockwise from top: Derek Roy, Rene Bourque and Ben Scrivens. (Getty Images/Canadian Press/CBC Sports)

"The advantage we had was we played together for a year or two before the Olympics and really got to develop that team chemistry," he said. 

Joseph also won a silver medal with Canada at the 1992 games.

"It was a great opportunity to represent your country in different tournaments in the Olympic year, and when you got to the Olympic Games you knew the international game, playing on the international ice, so it was more of a team concept than throwing guys together for two or three weeks to prepare for an Olympic event."

High hopes

Joseph has high hopes for the team, which is under general manager and retired NHL goaltender Sean Burke, who distinguished himself in the late 1980s and 1990s representing Canada in international play.

He predicts Burke and his coaching staff will inspire the 25 Canadians he has drawn from pro leagues around the world, 13 of whom play in the KHL in Russia. Former NHLer Derek Roy will be a player to watch, said Joseph. Wojtek Wolski and Chris Kelly are other veterans on the team with considerable NHL experience.

"They'll be there at the end," he said.

While Joseph was the only Nova Scotian on the men's national squad in 1992-94, there are two Nova Scotia competitors on this year's women's Olympic team. Jillian Saulnier, 25, of Halifax, plays for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women's Hockey League. Her teammate, Blayre Turnbull, 24, of Stellarton, has also been named to the Canadian lineup.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games will run from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25.

Hockey Canada on Friday announced its 23-woman Olympic hockey team that will be aiming for a fifth straight Winter Games gold medal in February. Canada opens defence of its title Feb. 11 against Russia in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (Todd Korol/Canadian Press)

With files from Information Morning

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