QUEENS, N.Y. (WKBW) - Representing his country is nothing new for former Buffalo Sabres captain and Rochester, New York native Brian Gionta but that doesn't make Sunday's announcement any less special. During the intermission of the 2018 NHL Winter Classic, the U.S. men's Olympic team was announced and Gionta was named captain.
Introducing the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s, Women’s & Paralympic Sled rosters! #TeamUSA 🇺🇸
For Gionta, this was a golden opportunity after the NHL announced active players wouldn't be allowed to participate in the Olympics. The decision surprised many, as NHL players have been allowed to represent their respective countries in the past five games.
In an impromptu appearance at last week's outdoor World Juniors Championship game between the U.S. and Canada, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated that it didn't make sense for the league to go to the Pyeongchang games. Daly added that the league wouldn't discuss the possibility of the 2022 Olympics until the 2018 Olympics have concluded.
"The issues with each Olympics are different," Daly said. "Obviously, some of the logistical difficulties we have with South Korea will be the same in China. But maybe there are some opportunities in China that aren't in South Korea."
Gionta, 38, played 15 seasons in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and Sabres. In his 1006 career games, Gionta scored 289 goals and 299 assists, finishing with 588 points and one Stanley Cup title [2002-2003].