So, what if Canada can’t send NHL players to the 2018 Olympics?

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Tom Renney didn’t seem fatalistic when discussing recent, not-so-positive comments about the NHL’s possible lack of participation in the 2018 Olympics.

“Yikes, I don’t know how we did it in 1994 to be honest with you — smoke and mirrors,” the Hockey Canada president joked on Monday. “There is a Plan B that we’re starting to work on now, just in case. Hockey Canada’s done that every single time. There’s no question we would be ready.”

“The big thing is to be nimble enough to respond to that, should the need be.”

As unfortunate as it would be to see the NHL sit out the Olympics, it would indeed create a fascinating role reversal.

While Shane Doan joked that Canada wouldn’t make a movie about a “Miracle” scenario, the bottom line is that the mighty hockey nation only really began stockpiling Olympic gold medals once NHL players became available.

What happens if they’re forced to go from a loaded juggernaut to … whatever a “smoke and mirrors” setup would amount to?

Renney was understandably slim on details, seemingly shrugging off the suggestion that Spengler Cup preparations would make a huge difference (and also noting that he isn’t sure AHL players would even be available).

It really does stoke the imagination to picture Canadian and American teams, in particular, if they were forced to go without NHL players. Perhaps college and junior players could make early impressions while cast-offs might have a shot at making names for themselves?

Sure, such a reality wouldn’t be ideal, yet it could also be pretty intriguing.