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Maxim Noreau Has Been Canada's Mr. Reliable

A former NHL defenseman, Maxim Noreau has made a name for himself playing in Switzerland and representing Canada every chance he can. His hard work is about to pay off with a second Olympic appearance for the 34-year-old defenseman.
Maxim Noreau

Whenever Hockey Canada comes calling, Maxim Noreau has been ready to pick up.

He has never been a household name in hockey, with no points in six career NHL games with Minnesota over a decade ago. But for diehard Canadian national team followers, he's a name you're all too familiar with. 

Mainly a Spengler Cup mainstay, he has played in six of them with 20 points in 23 games, winning the championship four times. Noreau has worn the C at multiple Spengler Cup events and is about to don the A for his second consecutive Olympic appearance.

Among all defensemen with at least 300 games played in the top Swiss league, the NL, Noreau's .712 points-per-game average is good for third all-time and first among active defenders, with Calle Andersson (.490 in 403 games) being second. Noreau has led the NL in scoring on multiple occasions and took the top defender award in 2018 in the same year he made it to the Olympic all-star team, won bronze at that same event, and took the Spengler Cup. So, whenever the team he's been on has been good, Noreau has been a huge reason why. 

At 34, Noreau is inching closer to the twilight of his career. So making the Olympics as a key contributor for Canada is a blessing, given how unlikely it was looking even weeks before the NHL decided to pull out of the tournament. Noreau led all defenders in scoring four years ago with seven points in six games, with Canada using him in heavy minutes and every opportunity they possibly could. 

And that's exactly what they've made him do throughout his entire national team career. Whenever the NHL hasn't been able to send NHLers to an event, Noreau has answered the call. That type of reliability made him an easy option to be an alternate captain, and Noreau believes the team is good enough to win gold – something they came short of in 2018.

"I know that Canada is always going to be one of the favorites," Noreau said. "There is always pressure when you put on the maple leaf, but I think it's a privilege to have that pressure.

"We're going for gold. we can't be scared to say that we want to win. That's what we're there for."

Noreau said he didn't know much about many of the players on the team, and that having to get together so quickly has been a tough task for the Canadians. But that's the case for many of the teams in the tournament, and he's not using it as an excuse.

"It's a nice little mix with a bunch of the young guys that are here as well," Noreau said.

Noreau's career doesn't have the flash or glamour that Canadian captain Eric Staal has had, but that doesn't matter. Noreau's career has been very successful when donning the red, white and black of Hockey Canada's colors, and it's never a bad thing when your country keeps calling for your services. 

Canada's blueline is, in a way, viewed as a weakness for the team. So having a familiar face in Noreau where they know exactly what they're getting is important. He's looking like a second-pairing guy right now, but don't be surprised if he lines up with top prospect Owen Power to create a dynamic punch at some point. 

If this ends up being the final Olympic appearance for Noreau, he'll be making the most an opportunity that seemed an eternity away even 5-6 years ago, let alone when he was fighting for his NHL career. 

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