During the second intermission of the 2018 NHL Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers at Citi Field yesterday, Team USA was announced for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Unlike the last five Olympic Winter Games, the 2018 Olympics will not feature the National Hockey League’s best. However Team USA will have players familiar to NHL fans from years past. In addition to captain Brian Gionta, Team USA has five other players who have played for Canadian-based teams in the NHL.
Gionta, a native of Rochester, New York, has decided to come out of retirement from the Buffalo Sabres and play one more season with Team USA at age 39. The right winger played five seasons with the Montreal Canadiens from 2009 to 2014 and had 97 goals and 76 assists for 173 points in 303 games. Gionta’s best season with Montreal came in 2010-11, when he reached 29 goals, 17 assists and 46 points. Gionta had 1006 games in his NHL career as he also played 473 games with the New Jersey Devils and 230 games with the Sabres.
Like Gionta, defenseman James Wisniewski of Canton, Michigan has a wealth of NHL experience having played 552 games from 2005 to 2016. Among the six teams Wisniewski played for was the Canadiens. In fact, he was Gionta’s teammate in Montreal during the 2010-11 season. In 43 games, he had seven goals and 23 assists for 30 points and was a +4.
Jim Slater, a center from Lapeer, Michigan, played four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets from 2011 to 2015. In 213 games, Slater had 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points. More was expected from Slater in the Atlanta/Winnipeg organization as he was the Thrashers’ first round pick, 30th overall, in the 2002 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
Bobby Butler of Marlborough, Massachusetts started his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators. In three seasons from 2009 to 2012, Butler, a right winger, played 94 games with the Senators and had 16 goals, 21 assists and 37 points.
Mark Arcobello, a right winger from Milford, Connecticut, played 78 games with the Edmonton Oilers from 2012 to 2015 and 20 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015-16. In his time with Edmonton, Arcobello had 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points, and in Toronto, he had three goals and one assist for four points.
Finally, defenseman Chad Billins of Port Huron, Michigan, played 10 games for the Calgary Flames during the 2013-14 season. He had three assists and was a -3. In 2016, Billins signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks, and played a season with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League, before moving to Sweden to play professional hockey.