POMINVILLE SELECTS TEAM USA
Wednesday, 04.23.2008 / 2:48 PM / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
|Jason Pominville (Photo: Getty Images)|
It was a matter of taking an opportunity.
Electing to use his dual citizenship to play for the United States in the 2008 IIHF World Championships this May - instead of Canada - the Montreal native officially became an American hockey player for international events.
But that is not to say Pominville was attempting to make a statement.
“It was an opportunity and it’s not as if I did something wrong,” he said. “I have the right to do what I did and that’s why I did it.”
His mother, born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and his father, a native of Quebec, made him eligible for either team. However, it was the United States that made the first offer.
“My decision was made before Canada even announced their rosters,” Pominville said.
”I don’t know if I would have been on [Team Canada] or not. I’ve never been a part of the Canadian program. I’ve never played for them. So for me to join the US organization… I thought overall it would be the best decision for me.”
Pominville previously had a tryout with the Canadian junior team in 2002, but was not selected for the final roster.
The IIHF stipulates that while an athlete with dual citizenship can choose to participate for either country the first time he is chosen, once the decision has been made he can only play for that country in international events.
“I live in the US, I enjoy myself in Buffalo, and who knows, after my career I might even end up spending the rest of my life in the US,” Pominville said. “Right now, I don’t see why I would consider myself Canadian more than an American [citizen].
"But I think joining their program definitely makes me a little bit more of an American [hockey] player.”
Pominville is not the first to make such a move in international play. Most notably, Belleville, Ont. native Brett Hull utilized his dual citizenship to play for the United States in the 1986 World Championships. Hull continued to represent Team USA in the Winter Olympics (1998, 2002), World Cup (1996) and Canada Cup (1991) events.
“He’s not the only one to ever do that,” Pominville said, citing Adam Deadmarsh and Mike Knuble as other examples. “There are a few guys that have dual citizenship and decide to go to play with the US and vice versa. I think there was a kid in juniors this year that was American actually, and decided to go play with the Canadian team. It happens on both sides and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal if you’ve never played for them.”
His teammates don’t seem to mind. Wisconsin native Drew Stafford is set to join Pominville in May as he makes his World Championship debut.
“I’m excited about the challenge, I’m excited about the team and I’ll just go there, do my best and hopefully bring back a medal,” said Pominville.
And make the most of a great opportunity.