Graeme Townsend, 48, the first Jamaica-born player in the NHL (Boston) thinks a Jamaican hockey team in the Olympics in the next 8-20 years is a possibility. Townsend, a former skating coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, led a talent identification camp in Toronto at Westwood Arena. Players who trace their heritage to the Caribbean attended from Sweden, Alberta, Ontario and Virginia.
Townsend’s goal is to mount a team for their first tour next summer in the hopes of building awareness of Jamaica’s Olympic plan and to raise sponsorship money.
Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to join the International Ice Hockey Federation in 2012 when they were granted associated member status. To obtain full status and Olympic eligibility, a country must have a rink and a development program in place. Townsend will lead a delegation to Jamaica to explore possible facilities for the rink. The JOIHF (Jamaica Olympic Ice Hockey Federation) is in the process of developing marketing events such as street and roller hockey programs. There are several players of Jamaican heritage currently playing in the NHL including P.K. Subban (Montreal), Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia), Devante Smith-Pelly (Anaheim), Chris Stewart (Buffalo) and Vancouver prospect Jordan Subban. Others are playing in European professional leagues and in the minors prompting many to think not only could it happen that Jamaica is represented in the Olympics in Hockey but it will happen and in the not too distant future.