By not participating in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, the NHL ends its streak at five after going to Nagano in 1998, Salt Lake City in 2002, Turin in 2006, Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014.
Here’s a look at some of the top moments from those five Games with NHL players:
HASEK STARS, GRETZKY SITS
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On the way to leading the Czech Republic to Olympic gold in Nagano, goaltender Dominik Hasek beat heavily-favored Canada in a shootout in the semifinals. As Robert Reichel scored for the Czechs, ”the Dominator” stopped Theo Fleury, Ray Bourque, Joe Nieuwendyk, Eric Lindros and Brendan Shanahan
As remarkable as the Hasek’s 24 saves in regulation and overtime and five more in the shootout were, it was unbelievable that the ”Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, didn’t get a chance.
”Dominik skated out of the crease and asked me if Wayne Gretzky was shooting,” referee Bill McCreary said. ”That kind of surprised me. But once I told him I didn’t know who was shooting, he went back into his net and as he always did, he stopped everybody.”
USA-CANADA FOR GOLD
Months after 9/11, the United States and Canada met in Salt Lake City for the gold medal. Canada won 5-2 as Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic each scored twice, ending that country’s 50-year Olympic gold-medal drought and putting Hasek’s dominating performance in the past. Gretzky put that team together and railed against criticism during the tournament, and players fed off that.
”When you look back now, I’m not sure if the players in the room understood how important Wayne’s speech was and how much he was deflecting any of that pressure,” defenseman Rob Blake said. ”But to be able to finish off that tournament on a high note, that was obviously quite nice.”
THE KING RISES
One of the greatest performances of Henrik Lundqvist’s illustrious career came in 2006 when he led Sweden to the gold medal by making 25 saves in an epic final against archrival Finland.
It was ”a big tournament to play with (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Mats) Sundin and (Peter) Forsberg,” Lundqvist said. ”That was kind of my first big tournament.”
On the big stage, Lundqvist shined the brightest.
CROSBY’S GOLDEN GOAL
Yelling so loud almost everyone in the arena could hear him, Sidney Crosby asked for the puck from Iginla with shouts of, ”Iggy, Iggy, Iggy!” Iginla got Crosby the puck, and Canada overcome a sluggish start to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to beat the U.S. for gold in overtime on home ice.
Crosby’s ”golden goal” might be on a stamp in Canada one day like Forsberg’s shootout move for Sweden in 1994. Safe to say he’s a fan of the Olympics after repeating gold in 2014 in Sochi.
”Looking back to the two Olympics I’ve been able to go to, it’s been unbelievable,” Crosby said. ”The hockey has been unbelievable, the experience has been great.”
With Vladimir Putin watching from inside Bolshoy Ice Dome, a back-and-forth game between the U.S. and host Russia in Sochi played at a breakneck pace went to a shootout. U.S. coach Dan Bylsma could’ve picked different shooters, but went back to T.J. Oshie over and over and was rewarded as the winger scored on four of his six shootout attempts to give the Americans a memorable victory.
”I had a pretty good idea I would be going in the shootout,” said Oshie, who earned the nickname of T.J. Sochi. ”I didn’t know I would be going that much.”