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Gushue, Nichols don’t like this call

Curling Canada photo/Michael Burns
Mark Nichols (left) and Brad Gushue both appreciated the quality of Olympic hockey during  the 2006 Winter Games in Italy and are disappointed the NHL has decided not to participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Curling Canada photo/Michael Burns Mark Nichols (left) and Brad Gushue both appreciated the quality of Olympic hockey during the 2006 Winter Games in Italy and are disappointed the NHL has decided not to participate in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

Mark Nichols found Olympic hockey to be a motivating force for him, skip Brad Gushue and their teammates in their run to winning curling gold for Canada at the Turin Games in 2006.

His team took in two men's hockey games in Turin and watched the Canadian women's team win gold.

“That was a real turning point for us at the Olympics,” Nichols said. “When we got to see the women's team beat Sweden in the final and you saw them get their medals, we were at the end of our round-robin heading into the playoffs.

“When you experience that and watch someone win a gold medal, it was like 'Oh listen, we've got to be there (too).”'

Gushue, Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker are focused on at the world men’s curling championship this week in Edmonton, but the skip and third from the St. John’s rink took some time to comment about the other game on ice, specifically their disappointment on hearing of the NHL’s decision that its players would not be going to the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

“I think it's a terrible decision,” Gushue said. “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. As a fan, I'm very disappointed by it.

“I'm sure there's some business reason behind it, but from a pure hockey and a pure fan's perspective, I think it's terrible to not give those guys an opportunity.”

Gushue and Nichols are also hoping to return to the Games for the first time since Turin.

They can secure a berth in the Olympic Trials this December with a podium appearance at the worlds this week although they could almost certainly gain a berth through other means.

On the men's hockey front, it appears the Olympic tournament will not exactly feature household names. Canada will likely try to win a third straight gold with players from lower-level pro leagues around the world.

“A little disappointed in the decision as an athlete and a fan of high-calibre sport, Nichols said. ”I just think you want the best players playing in the biggest event in the world.“

 “If you're any sort of athlete, that's the coolest and the biggest event you're ever going to play in,” Nichols said. “It's too bad that those guys won't get a chance to do it.”

 

 

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