Denver native Nick Shore embraced the honor no matter how it turned out.
The former University of Denver player will play for the USA men’s Olympic hockey team as the NHL’s most experienced player – more than a month after the league refused to send its players current in Beijing, China.
“Definitely one of the coolest opportunities I’ve ever had in my career, and really, in my life,” Shore told The Post in a phone interview. “I didn’t expect it, obviously – I couldn’t wait to watch it. But it happened and the way you see support from friends and family, people you haven’t talked to in forever, everyone really cares.
“So it’s an honor to be a part of that – of all the athletes from the United States that come through.”
Shore, 29, played 299 games with five NHL clubs before beginning a two-year stint in Europe, where he currently plays for Novosibirsk Sibir of the Russian Continental Hockey League. Shore recently traveled to Denver and trained with the Denver Pioneers before joining his American teammates for a two-day training camp in Los Angeles. The team left for Beijing on Wednesday.
“Without a doubt, having not even been there, it will be the coolest experience I’ve ever had,” Shore said. “I’m sure it will resonate a bit more when we get there, get into the (Olympic) village and start experiencing some of these things.”
Shore will become the third Colorado native to play for a United States Men’s Olympic Hockey Team, joining Denver goaltender John Grahame (2006 Turin, Italy) and Highlands Ranch forward Troy Terry (2018 PyeongChang, Korea from South). Terry also played DU, winning an NCAA championship in 2017 – four years after Shore signed with the Los Angeles Kings to start his pro career.
“Everybody is shooting for you and the United States, all the athletes in the United States,” Shore said. “Playing DU is great to represent DU – especially because of all the college kids we have on the team.”
Shore is one of the oldest players on America’s youngest roster since 1994. The average age is 25.1 and 15 players are on loan from their NCAA teams, as Terry was in 2018 from DU . Defenseman Drew Helleson, 20, is a Boston College junior and a 2019 Avalanche second-round pick.
“There’s definitely a lot of excitement around the group. We’re going out there to win a gold medal,” Shore said. “That’s definitely what it starts and ends with, but at the same time you have to soak it in, enjoy every day and experiment as much as you can.”
Shore isn’t overly concerned about COVID protocols, which are strict.
“It’s the Olympics. I don’t care if it was complete confinement for a month, without being able to do anything, ”he said. “It would still be the Olympics and it would still be an amazing opportunity.”
Shore is one of five KHL players on the U.S. roster. He will join playoff-seeking Novosibirsk Sibir immediately after the Olympics to complete the regular season.