"I remember the competitiveness of the tournament, the incredible intensity, the honour it was for myself and all my teammates to put on the jersey". He was drafted in the second round by the Colorado Avalanche in 2009 and split his time between the NHL and minor leagues from 2011 to 2016, scoring 24 points in 84 career games with the Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.
The goal, even in the absence of NHLers, is gold.
And how's this for a thought? But there will be some players recognized by local hockey fans.
The news: Howden, who plays for Minsk in the KHL, had cracked the roster of the Canadian Olympic team, along with one fellow Manitoban, defenceman Chay Genoway of Morden. Mat Robinson and Chris Lee are the only players on Team Canada without previous National Hockey League experience.
A year ago, Canadian forward Wojtek Wolski was in a hospital bed recovering from surgery on a broken neck.
Now, at 37, after playing more than 920 regular-season and playoff games in the National Hockey League, including two stints with the Ottawa Senators and winning a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011, Kelly finds it a bit weird that he has ended up being part of the five-ring Olympic circus. "Mostly tears of happiness, but I am filled with so many emotions about what I have overcome". I never bought it and never believed for a minute they wouldn't go.
"Today I am so proud and so excited".
All but three of the players announced are from European-based leagues after the NHL bowed out of competing in South Korea.
"I think Canadians are going to get behind this team".
Willie Desjardins, who coached the Vancouver Canucks for three seasons (2014-17), will be Canada's coach. I think that's pretty special. They all have great track records playing internationally.
Before that, he played at Clarkson University and helped the Golden Knights to a conference playoff title in 2007 and a regular season championship the following year. "It's a man's game".
That leaves the men's team digging for a few players from the NCAA ranks - four to be exact - while the women's team adds a pair of current college players to its roster.
At Pyeongchang, Kelly could also bump into some former Senators on the USA team - winger Bobby Butler, who scored 16 goals in 94 games with Ottawa between 2009 and 2012; defencemen Matt Gilroy, who played 14 games in 2011-12; and Mike Lundin, who played 11 games in 2012-13. He's another player on the team.
After that stint, the team will travel to PyeongChang and march with the rest of the Canadian athletes in the opening ceremony and then travel to Incheon for its third exhibition, a February 12 date vs. Sweden.
"We're going to draw on that but we also know that to win hockey games, we're going to need big performances, we're going to need guys who come into the Olympics and seize the moment", said Burke.