Are NHLer’s Playing in the Olympics Doing What’s Best for Hockey?

Olympic hockey has come to a close.  Canada took the Gold thanks to pure adrenalin amidst legs that were quickly tiring of 4 on 4 hockey.

Now that it’s finished I too will join the chorus of people asking: Should NHLer’s be allowed to play in the Olympics?

Short Answer: It depends.

Long Answer:

The Olympics are supposed to highlight the competition of the best; best individuals and best teams.  However, there is a phenomenon well known in sports that the best teams don’t always have the best individuals.

Throughout the various telecasts announcers made reference to how many NHLer’s were on every team, as if that on its own determined whether or not the team would be able to compete.

I don’t think anyone needs reminding that the “Miracle on Ice” team had ZERO NHLer’s on it at the time they won the Gold in Lake Placid.  Oh, sure, many of the players went on to play in the NHL, but if you could time warp this year’s US team to then, there would be no doubt that this year’s team was superior in talent. 

What’s my point?

Hockey is team sport.  If the sport is to be respected and if it’s to truly grow, it needs to continue to be connected to its roots – it needs to be a sport of passion, commitment, skill and teamwork.  What will showcase that is multiple teams competing that have played together for more than 48 hours before the Olympic tourney. Having a two week, round robin, All-Star series, however exciting, is not what hockey is all about. 

But what about the players?  They overwhelmingly want to participate and play for their respective countries. 

Why wouldn’t they?  They get a chance to compete in the Olympics and if they fail they come back to multi-million dollar contracts and a shot at the Stanley Cup. 

Alexander Ovechkin said he would walk out on his team to play in the next Olympics if the NHL didn’t suspend operations and send its players like it did this year.  I would venture that other players might do the same.

This perspective is interesting.

Ovechkin (and others like him) are basically telling their native countries: “You can work for two to four years to pull together a team but in the end, you’ll want me there anyway.”

Maybe….Maybe not.

If players in the NHL really cared about showcasing hockey in its best light, they would leave the NHL for two years and go back to their native countries, tryout for, and if they made it, work to build their respective teams in intra/inter-national competition.  That would make for some really great hockey in Sochi 2014.

Okay, so I’m polling NHLer’s: I know you all bleed to play in your native lands, to go for the Gold in the Olympics.  So I’m asking you,  how many of you will leave your NHL teams in two years, go to your Native lands and go to work to prepare for Sochi? 

Now don’t all raise your hands at the same time…I’ll wait….

Explore posts in the same categories: character, Fans, hockey, International Competition, NHL, The Future of Hockey, The Olympics

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4 Comments on “Are NHLer’s Playing in the Olympics Doing What’s Best for Hockey?”

  1. Jake Says:

    That’s a very interesting question, one I would really like to have answered. I think it would definitely weed out the guys that are more in it for the money now, that’s for sure.

    This is something that my friends and I have all been discussing and debating for the last few months leading up to the Games. After the conclusion, I’m obviously terribly upset that the U.S. didn’t take the gold, but I am amazed at some of the great games that I was able to watch, and more importantly, show the world that the U. S. of A. had a much better team than what they thought they saw on paper. In general, I just think it was great to be able to watch almost half an NHL seasons worth of games in under two weeks.

    But back to the question; should NHL’ers be in the Olympics? My honest opinion, is NO. Showcasing the best in the world is one thing, but they should be the best in the world that have to live, eat and BREATH it together. Not get off their privately chartered airplane to get to Vancouver one day before your first game. It annoyed me to know end to hear some starry eyed canuck talk about how they had the best team ever assembled in history. On paper maybe. If you actually WATCHED their games, they played HORRIBLE as a team! Their best line, big surprise, was Thornton, Heatley and Marleau. Well whatya know, they’re all on the same, AND the same line to boot!

    Before this goes on forever, I have one last thing to say; any American that says something along these line: “I’m pissed that the U.S. but I’m happy that Sidney scored it!” should immediately be shot for being completely unpatriotic and dumb. 😛

    • Jake Says:

      Forgive my grammatical and spelling mistakes, I’m still very emotional from this weekend, haha!

    • betweenthepipes Says:

      Jake, Your comments are always spot on and entertaining – thanks for the GREAT post!

      I agree that the USA played much better than most people thought they would. When they bumped off Canada that first time I was thinking: “The USA has a shot at this…” They came together and played a system that took advantage of their youth. I was at the Wolves game watching the end of the Gold Medal game in the Lobby with about a hundred other folks crammed next to a nacho stand. There was a crushing deflation when Crosby scored (and I agree there’s nothing good about being beat by him! As a matter of fact, it kinda tweaks me more).

      I also agree that Canada didn’t play well as a team in this tourney – Don Cherry on his Facebook page also brought that up. Excellent observation about the Thornton et al. line. One of those guys deserved to score the game winner if anyone did.

      In the end, yes it was fun, yes, there was some entertaining hockey, yes, I’m happy USA got Silver, but was it the best hockey the world could offer? I don’t think so.

      Remember how coaches always say, “There’s no ‘I’ in T.E.A.M.”? My new motto is: “There is no N.H.L. in T.E.A.M.”

      I’m still waiting for the first NHLer to declare that he’s going to Sochi two years in advance. I’ll announce it here when it happens. 😉

      • Jake Says:

        I will be awaiting the email notification on that post good sir! 😉

        Wow, I could only imagine that feeling, of watching the end of that game with a bunch of other American hockey fans. What a bummer. I was watching alone at home, and the first thing that I could think was, “Great, now I’m going to hear this from my wife because she’s absolutely head-over-heels for Crosby.” :p

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