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Mangiapane’s Olympic underdog story unfinished

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Calgary Flames Andrew Mangiapane

It’s like a power outage during an underdog movie. We’ll never know whether Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane would have made Team Canada for the Beijing Olympics.

One of the most intriguing stories of the past year, Mangiapane’s rise to goal-scoring prominence caught the world by surprise. His finish last season, his outstanding MVP performance at the world championships and his hot start this year had him on Canada’s long list for consideration.

With the NHL and NHLPA pulling out of the Olympic agreement, though, Mangiapane’s story has come to an unfortunate early end.

“I think it’s tough for all of Canada, every person that was wanting to go to the Olympics. It’s tough in that aspect. But I understand given what’s going on in today’s world,” Mangiapane said via Zoom on Tuesday.

“You don’t know if you’re going to make it or not but just to have the opportunity would have been cool.”

With 17 goals so far, Mangiapane leads the Calgary Flames. And 16 of those tallies have come on the road this year. It was getting increasingly difficult to argue a way to leave him off the Canadian roster come February. In spite of the fact Team Canada has so many legitimate superstars to choose from.

Mangiapane has shown his international ability on the bigger ice and thrives in the tighter quarters of North America even though he gives up inches and pounds to most of the defenders he faces.

His work ethic and skill level are both elite. If he was bigger and had more draft pedigree, he’d have a much larger profile in the NHL.

He’s easy to cheer for.

It’s too bad the entire country won’t have a chance to do that on the world’s biggest stage.

In the wake of Boston Bruins star Brad Marchand’s take on Tuesday on the NHL and NHLPA not making more effort to honour the Olympic agreement, Mangiapane was asked whether he would have gone if asked.

“I would have liked to see what other players were doing and what was going on, and what was happening behind the scenes there to finally make a call for myself,” he said.

“Obviously, I think everybody would have liked to have gone. I think Olympics are every kid’s dream. But with the circumstances, I understand why we couldn’t go.”

Hopefully it wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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