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Should NHL Players Go To Sochi In 2014?

Mar 1, 2010, 8:49 AM EST

It’s tough to argue that the break is good for the league. Sure, it
gives teams a chance to heal up from a long season of wear and tear but
hockey is not like football; you can’t just take a two-week break and
hope to play at the exact same level you were heading into the time off.
Heck, teams have had to have mini-training camps just to get back into
the routine of playing together.

Of course, the NHL players will all say they think they should play
in the Olympics. For many, wearing a gold medal and representing their
country is the highest honor they’ll ever achieve in their career and
some even say that winning the gold medal is better than hoisting the
Stanley Cup.

The two coaches in yesterday’s game, both NHL coaches and both now
scrambling to get back with their teams and readjust as quick as
possible, believe that the NHL players should be a part of the Olympic
Games.

“We do a pretty good job of stealing players from other countries and
I think their fans deserve a chance to see a tournament like this,”
said Team USA head coach Ron Wilson.

“I think the best players in the world should have an opportunity to
compete in the Olympics,” said Babcock. “This is a great showcase
event and players are thrilled to be here. I’m a big fan of the ice
surface being the same as well because think the game is so much
better.”

When you think about Olympic hockey, there’s no question that if
professional players from around the world are competing then NHL
players should as well. Of course, a group of American college and AHL
players facing off against a Russian team armed from the KHL could turn
into another, actual “miracle” scenario.

Yet the Olympics should be about showcasing the best athletes of the
world pitted against each other. In that case, there’s no question the
NHL should send their players to Sochi in 2014.

After watching yesterday’s incredible game, it’s tough to argue
against it. But at the same time, NHL fans are restless. They’ve gone
two long weeks without their favorite team playing, just at the point in
the season when teams are gearing up for the playoffs.

So which are you? Are you in favor of the NHL players being in the
Olympics?

  1. Jamie - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:54 PM

    Sorry to make a political statement on a sports blog, but this situation is a perfect microcosm of our political system. The NHL is big business. Naturally big business is going to resist anything that negatively affects its bottom line, regardless of whether it’s the Right Thing or not.
    Government regulations that keep companies from doing bad things like polluting rivers, employing children, union busting, etc. (keeping the best athletes out of the olympics) cost the companies money. The companies thus support politicians who will bring “deregulation” and “free trade” (nearly all Republicans and a good many Democrats), so they won’t be burdened by intrusive laws and can make more money, regardless of the consequences for the population (war, climate change, oil slicks, poverty-level wages, half-ass olympic hockey). Since these companies control so much money, government and, especially, media, a very effective, permanent propaganda campaign is set up to fool enough of the population so that this predatory capitalism can stay in power, even with fair elections (although that’s been undermined as well with computer-based voting- see big business running election hardware and software). This effective propaganda is why about 7/8 the people reading this will tell me I’m full of it.
    That was the argument from the socialist side, but there needs to be a correct balance. Maybe you strike a compromise where a certain number of pro hockey players are allowed. (Except the Libertarians would be against any requirements limiting the number of pros, thus unwittingly playing into the hands of big business.)

  2. joey joe joe - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    exactly- we tried to use amateurs. After a while, we were the only ones, and we were tired of getting waxed.
    I’d rather see non-professionals, but only if every country does that. And they’re not going to.
    Plus, since all the NHL players go back to their own countries for the olympics, it’s not like it benefits any one country. It raises the talent pool all around.

  3. Teemu - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    Hello hockey mom! Greetings from Finland. Great game which could have ended either way.
    For me amatuer means an athlete who doesn’t get a living from sport and can’t concentrate 100% in it. There are some amatuer athletes in Olympics but most of them are professionals. They don’t make millions like NHL players but they do make their money by doing sports. It’s little naive to think Olympics are for amatuers. That time is in the past.

  4. Nick - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:13 PM

    You imply that true hockey fans are jonesing to see their favorite team after two weeks? Wrong. True hockey fans live to see international hockey at it’s highest level and the only way to present such a high level at the Olympics is by including NHL players. Two weeks of an Olympic tourney is welcomed by true hockey fans. As for casual fans and those who watch the Olympics but don’t necessarily like hockey, you just fortified your fan base. The Olympics legitimize hockey for those novice fans. Now each team needs to market the Olympians on their roster and you’ll see a wave of first-timers at games. After masterminding a disgraceful TV deal for the NHL, Bettman should be humbled and grateful that he has the Olympics as a marketing outlet for this great game.

  5. Brandon Worley - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    In no way am I implying that true hockey fans don’t enjoy the break; in fact I think it’s the opposite. I love the break, and I love the hell out of Olympic hockey. Judging by the TV numbers, it can only be good for the game, because that wasn’t just die-hard hockey fans watching across America.
    Personally, I can’t see how the NHL can afford to skip the Olympics. The backlash from the players would be incredible, and the league could risk losing the international players that makes the NHL so much fun to watch.

  6. Hank Missenheim_Jr - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    International hockey needs is regular world tournament held outside the NHL season. Winning a gold medal would actually mean something if it were by college players, like in 1980.

  7. kingofgrills - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    I absolutely think NHL players should represent their respective countries in the Olympics. I also think their participation in the games helps draw more fans into hockey and the NHL.
    It’s good for the sport, and ultimately, it’s good for the league.

  8. Johnny Punish - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    $$$$$$ This is a negotiating gambit by Bettman to get a cut of the action! 4 years away and the negotiating has already begun! Love it! There’s big money on the table! Amateur sports is dead! Welcome to the age of Olympic Business posing as a sport! $$$$$$$$$$$

  9. Herman Yayla - Mar 1, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    I think yesterdays game did more for hockey than Gary Bettman did during his post. NHL players should definitely take part in the Olympics and a proper brake be given to the season. Nothing beats watching the BEST athletes of the world (in any sports) representing their countries.

  10. Kevin C - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:15 PM

    35 million people watched the gold-medal game. Who, in their right mind, would let that public-relations opportunity pass?

  11. brad - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    This is an event for every country to send their best. Should we leave behind professional snowboarders? professional skiers? professional skaters? To rule out someone who is paid for the sport they compete in would rule out the majority of these individuals.

  12. lvtucker - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    I think the Olympics is about being the best. So let the best play.
    It’s simple.
    “You have to allow them to play. There are very few true amateur athletes left in the Olympics anyway. Most have sponsors and make big bucks to perform their sport.” -Michael

  13. Anonymous - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:39 PM

    Throwing the best individual players on the ice for two weeks, does not make the best hockey in the world. I would say game 7 win on the road for the Penguins v Redwings was just as exciting and the level of team play far exceeds Olympic hockey. The lack of time together shows in every aspect of Olympic hockey. Look at the 2 most exciting players in hockey- Ovechkin- a non factor, and before the game winner by Crosby- scoreless in the two previous games.
    Ken

  14. ard - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    I have mixed feelings about it, but not because of the money or the NHL thing. If you keep using professionals then teams where hockey is not a major sport has little chance of winning. Look at the scores of the games, like 12-0. To me that isn’t fair. On that same note, I would like to see some of the AHL or farm team guys playing on an Olympic level, not just the elite NHLers. On the other hand its also not fair to the players if we tell them they cannot represent their teams. They are the best from their country and they should have the honor to play for their flags.
    Bottom line for me is that they should play. Though as time goes on and NHLers become even better, the Olympic competition is going to be an elite group of just a few countries.

  15. jack25624 - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:32 PM

    Oh yeah, what about the miricle on ice? They were amateurs. The college kids need the chance to play for their country. Especially that the Soviet Union is no more. They have professional leagues in all the ex soviet block countries.

  16. Kevin C - Mar 1, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    @anonymous. It is not about the best hockey, but frankly, that gold-medal game was about as good as it gets. It is about marketing, and getting your product in front of the most people possible. The idea is to draw in NEW fans, and the Olympics are the best easy chance to do that.

  17. Jon - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    If the NHL doesn’t play, I doubt that I’ll have any interest in Olympic Hockey. It would be like watching the Spengler Cup or watching the women play.
    Don’t get me started on Women’s hockey either… Canada has the strongest team and they get beat by boys midget teams!

  18. SkyGirlofHockeytown - Mar 2, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    To the NHL, it’s not about taking two weeks off, It’s about money. All they really care about is the money the teams are not making during the Olympics.
    I would love to see the NHL players represent thier countries.

  19. Anonymous - Mar 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    Doni, it’s Canada’s game? And how many teams are in Canada, how many are in the US? I don’t like Bettman any more than you do, but this game hasn’t belonged to you for a long time. Why don’t we break it up, have a CHL, and USHL then see how the finances work out – In a couple of years you’d be playing at the ECHL level at open air rinks.

  20. Jim - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:10 AM

    I don’t think they should. The owners shell out money for the players to bring the team a cup. If they get injured in the olympics they aren’t doing their job.

  21. Cathy - Mar 8, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    I was just about to ask the same question.

  22. Raimo - Mar 9, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Of course they should! As a finnish hockey fan I love to watch high skill hockey games. I understand the reasons why NHL is doubtful for participating in Sochi but I think the benefits are much greater than downsides.

  23. jpcBFLO - Mar 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    until NBC actually promotes the NHL, i say no. They had an AMAZING opportunity to tie in their coverage of the NHL during the games, hockey brought them the highest ratings out side the opening/closing ceremonies, but the only hockey ads i saw (in the US) where for Versus? seriously, NBC’s promotion of hockey has been a joke since day one.
    The Winter Classic is a major NHL event, not one bit of promotion by NBC during the Today show, yet they babble on every Friday and Monday about their NFL coverage.
    Sunday game of the week, have you ever seen a commercial for a game outside of when you’re watching this weeks? No.
    NBC, it’s time to get with it and then the NHL can bring you the stars you need.

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  25. drub1959 - Dec 6, 2010 at 6:21 PM

    Proffessionals have no business in the Olympics. I don’t care what country they are from or which sport it is.

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