Boston Bruins

Apr 29, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres with center Patrice Bergeron (37) and center Brad Marchand (63) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins were going to be well represented at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

You had a few automatics with the Czech Republic’s David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy for Team USA, and the one-two punch of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for Team Canada. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was also expected to coach in a support role for Team Canada, while Don Sweeney has had a hand in building the 2022 Olympic squad for Team Canada.

That’s without getting into some other Olympic hopefuls on the Boston roster, from Linus Ullmark (Sweden) to Erik Haula (Finland) and Tomas Nosek (Czech Republic). Throw Canada’s Taylor Hall in the mix if you’d like, too.

It’s all enough to make the NHL’s expected-and-now-official opt out of the 2022 games sting for those involved.

“I’m obviously frustrated [and] sad,” Pastrnak admitted. “It’s just tough. I said many times, for European players growing up as a kid, that’s your dream, right, to make it [to the Olympics]. It’s very sad that this is technically the second Olympics in a row that you’re missing as a player. It’s obviously nobody’s fault, and I never blame anybody, it’s just the world we’re living in.

“It’s really unfortunate because Olympics don’t happen every single year, so it’s really frustrating.”

For Pastrnak, the wait to represent his country in hockey’s best-on-best tournament rages on, with the 25-year-old wing last representing his country in the 2018 World Championships.

Pastrnak, who has already etched his name into true Czech hockey legend status, has certainly made the most of those World Championship efforts when called upon, with six goals and 19 points in 22 games for the Czech Republic since 2016. Pastrnak also appeared in three games for the Czech Republic during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

“I still have a hope and I really hope one day I will participate in the Olympics,” said Pastrnak.

In the case of McAvoy, who was part of the USA squad that won gold at the 2017 World Junior Championships, the myriad of potential issues weren’t going to prevent him from representing his country had the NHL gone to Beijing.

“If given the opportunity I was absolutely going to go,” McAvoy, who last repped Team USA at the 2018 World Championships and has since emerged as a legitimate Norris Trophy contender, said. “I was going to enjoy every second of it. I’ve dreamed of that for a long time, so. disappointing is really the only way to describe it. Given the circumstances, it kind of is what it is. But I think all of our teammates had anticipated going or planning on [if they] had that chance.

“I think everybody’s pretty, pretty saddened by it. I think it was unanimous. We all really wanted to go.”

The good news in the case of both Pastrnak and McAvoy, of course, is that their career trajectories indicate that they will be there when the 2026 Olympics sends NHLers to Italy. (Unless we’re dealing with the Super Ultra Thundercrack variant by then, in which case, oh my goodness please just throw me in the garbage right now I can’t do another two years of this.)

But in the case of the Bergeron-Marchand duo, there’s a good chance that this was their only shot at playing together on hockey’s biggest stage and in pursuit of Olympic gold. That certainly stings for both, who represented Canada together at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Canada’s top line with Sidney Crosby, especially with Bergeron looking at an uncertain future.

And in addition to his uncertain future, the Boston captain would also be 40 and a half years old the next time the Olympics come around. Given Canada’s roster, the odds of a 40-year-old Bergeron making 2026 Team Canada seem rather slim.

But it’s almost more painful for someone like the 33-year-old Marchand, who appeared primed for what would’ve his first Olympic run, considering the strides he’s made since the NHL last sent their players to the Olympics.

“It definitely crossed my mind. I was thinking about [Marchand],” Pastrnak said. “Who would have thought five or 10 years ago that he would ever have a chance? Obviously, he’s in a different situation, right, playing for Canada where there is so many great talents and a lot of players to choose from. I definitely feel sorry for him. I haven’t spoken to him, so I don’t know how he feels about the Olympics overall, but I’m pretty sure he would be honored to put a Canadian jersey on. It’s sad and frustrating.

“But this is the situation we’ve been living in for the past couple of years. So I guess we could see that coming.”

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.