B.C. hockey player to live out Olympic dream

Former NHLer Stefan Elliott is among those named to represent Canada — as well as a handful of other familiar faces in Vancouver.

Former NHLer Stefan Elliott among those named to represent Canada

Arizona Coyotes' Stefan Elliott (45) celebrates his goal against the Edmonton Oilers with teammates John Scott (28) and Kyle Chipchura (24) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/The Associated Press)

One hockey player's loss is another hockey player's gain.

That's the story for a B.C. hockey player who will find himself skating for Team Canada during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Vancouverite and former NHL Colorado Avalanche defenceman Stefan Elliott was among the 25 men named to Hockey Canada's Olympic Roster.

He'll be joined by several other familiar faces in Vancouver, including former Canucks Maxim Lapierre and Mason Raymond, as well as former Vancouver Giant turned Edmonton Oiler Gilbert Brulé.

The much-anticipated roster was unveiled today following the controversial fallout between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee.

And while many fans might be upset that superstars like Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid won't compete for Olympic gold, hockey director and current WHL general manager Todd Harkins says he's excited by the turn of events.

"It's great to see that [Elliott] made the Olympic team," said Harkins, who was part of the player's development when he was just a teenager.

A shot by St. Louis Blues' Kevin Shattenkirk slips past Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, right, and Stefan Elliott, left, for a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in St. Louis. (Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press)

"Stefan was just a very smooth skating, cerebral defenceman that controlled the play from the back end. Very smart and a very high hockey IQ," said Harkins, who also worked with Gilbert Brulé.

According to Elliott's fiancée, Katie Cairns, the former NHLer was gunning for a spot on the Olympic team for months as it became clear the players from the league wouldn't be making the trip.

"He's really just over the moon. This was a dream come true him," she said. "He's been working really hard ... he's just really, really excited to represent Canada at the Olympics.

"It's pretty amazing."

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics mascot Soohorang, Paralympics mascot Bandabi and the Olympic Rings are displayed at the Gyeongpodae beach in Gangneung, South Korea, October 31, 2017. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Going for gold

Elliott bounced on and off the Avalanche roster for five years before a brief stint for the Arizona Coyotes during the 2015-2016 season. He currently plays for the Swedish Hockey League's HV 71 team.

"Any time you represent your country in any sport — it's just a huge thrill for any athlete," said Todd Harkins. "It's what we do. For them to be able to be on that stage representing the country, trying to win a gold medal for your country — it's just gotta be a phenomenal feeling for them."

Vancouverite Stefan Elliott is one of 25 men named to represent Team Canada in the 2018 Olympic Games hockey tournament. (Canadian Press/Ho-Hockey Canada)

Historically, the Olympic games has lent itself to some of the most iconic moments in the history of hockey. From Sidney Crosby's golden goal in Vancouver, to T.J. Oshie's one-man shootout show in Socci, Harkins says the Olympic platform can build superstars in an instant.

"With the NHL deciding that the players can't go, that opens the doors for these players that have played in the NHL that have moved on in their careers," said Harkins.

"Maybe all of a sudden, it sparks an interest back into the NHL forum. I think these players are going to be motivated to play the best hockey they can — to be seen on that stage."

Ed Willes, sports columnist for the Province newspaper, and Todd Harkins, general manager for the Prince George Cougars, on Canada's men's hockey team. Peter Reiner, a professor at UBC's National Core for Neuroethics, on cellphone addiction. 48:52

With files from CBC's BC Almanac