The United States men’s hockey team started off its 2018 Winter Olympic Games from PyeongChang, South Korea in disastrous fashion as they blew a 2-0 third-period lead to lose to heavy underdogs Slovenia.
With NHL players not being featured in the Games for the first time since 1994, a team comprised of former players, those applying their trade in Europe and collegiate athletes have been tasked to continue the high standard built by Team USA over the past 20 years.
Two of their most recognizable players with some of the most NHL experience is looking at these Games as a springboard to get back in the league.
Per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, Team USA captain Brian Gionta and defenseman James Wisniewski could be headed back to the NHL after the conclusion of the Olympics.
Gionta, 39, played with the Buffalo Sabres last season while Wisniewski, 33, last appeared during the 2015-16 season, which was just a single game with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“If somebody wanted me, I’m ready to go,” Wisniewski told Whyno. “Hopefully I can come out here and have a great Olympics. It’s not like I’m going to be expensive. You don’t have to give up future considerations. I’ve played in the highest level for over a decade and now playing in the Olympics, so it’s not like I haven’t been playing good, competitive hockey.”
Wisniewski played for six different teams over his 11 years in the NHL. He currently plays for Kassel Huskies in Germany.
Gionta spent 15 years in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils — who he won a Stanley Cup with in 2003 — the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres. The Rochester, NY native served as Buffalo’s captain for three seasons, the formerly-assumed final years of a 1,006-game career that saw him record 588 career points.
“A few teams” have already reached out to Gionta. Players can’t be signed until after the Olympics and must be signed by Feb. 26 in order to make a team’s postseason roster should they qualify come spring.