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Should NHL Players Go To Sochi In 2014?

Mar 1, 2010, 8:49 AM EDT

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. Michael - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    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.
    Regardless, I understand the risk of injury, but how can the NHL pass up a massive PR boost from showcasing their best talent on the global stage?
    The alternative I heard is an exedus of players to the professional leagues of other countries.
    It’s a shame the NHL is even having this discussion.

  2. McMike - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Absolutely they should. It is a great honor and pride to play for your country, and the players chosen to play deserve to. From an NHL perspective, perhaps they could build contract clauses that protect them from the financial burdens caused by injuries when players participate in non-NHL games.
    Of course, this wouldn’t protect them from potentially losing an Ovechkin or Crosby for the remainder of a season, but for many “owners”, money is the bottom line.

  3. Brandon Worley - Mar 1, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Of course, there’s always the possibility of injury anytime throughout the season. Why would that be any different? If a player gets hurt in the Olympics and is out for the season, does that make it any worse than if it happened in the NHL?
    And I’m wondering just how many fans the NHL gained the past two weeks? How many new viewers watched yesterday’s game and said “gee, I can’t wait to watch the next Nashville Predators game”?

  4. Ibanez - Mar 1, 2010 at 10:48 AM

    I suppose my opinion will come after I see how the Stars do coming off the break.

  5. Zach - Mar 1, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    This all comes down to money, if the NHL can broker a deal in which they can get access and money out of the IOC and IIHF to loan their players out during the season, they would be happy to do this.

  6. Ken - Mar 1, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Move it to the summer when it does not intefer. Give them time to practice together and then see who is the best team. 1 practice camp and a few practices together during the Olympics is not showcasing who is the best in the world.

  7. d - Mar 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Olympic hockey is way better than NHL – more skating, less everything else. Much more exciting to watch. Keep the NHL’ers in it!

  8. JNav - Mar 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM

    Ken –
    Are you suggesting moving the WINTER Olympics to SUMMER? Are you serious?

  9. J. Scott Davis - Mar 1, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    The Olympics is the highest honor for both country and athlete. With out a shadow of a doubt, NHL players MUST be in the Olympics. We fans have a voice in this matter.

  10. Tim - Mar 1, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Why not have it both ways? Allow NHL players to play in the Olympics and continue to play NHL games. The NHL schedule can be slightly reduced during the Olympics but they should continue to play. This would impact each NHL team differently depending on how many of their players would end up in the Olympics, but teams can bring up players and continue to play. NHL teams would have to deal with absent players in the same manner as if they were injured.

  11. Stephen - Mar 1, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Why is ok for NHL players to play in the olympics, but not MLB?

  12. adam - Mar 1, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    I don’t think there are any NHL fans who are restless during the olympics as you mentioned.
    My favourite NHL team always takes a back seat to my country’s team.

  13. Domenic Durante - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    I think going back to the old system- using only amateurs- would create the same situation that existed for decades, with the Canadian and American teams having little or no chance of winning, especially since every other country would be using professionals. The hockey I just witnessed was the best I’ve seen in some time. Excellent skating, passing, shooting, defense, goaltending and enough tough work in the corners and in front of the nets to make it chippy without any viciousness involved. The players were talented, disciplined and incredibly focused. And I’m amazed at how competitive the whole thing is. There’s really not that much difference amongst the top three or four teams. Keep it this way!

  14. doni - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM

    Bettman is an American A**hole whose only purpose is to get the NHL out of Canada into the larger US market, regardless of attendance, fan loyalty and the fact that it is indeed CANADA’S GAME. this WEASEL doesn’t know his butt from a hole in the ground when it comes to hockey and he should be fired from his post. elect a Canadian to the position of NHL commissioner and watch the numbers explode !!! no NHL players in the olympics??? Bettman, try telling that to 6’5″ Pronger, you nerd.
    PROUD CANADIAN, eh…

  15. dave - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    Naw.. leave these kids beat the other counties ‘best’!

  16. Tim - Mar 1, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    The Olympic ideal has certainly been turned on its head given the actual professional status of most athletes. Why continue this charade? Just go to a “World Championship” type format every few years for all sports.

  17. al - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    NHL and NBA players should stand aside in the Olympics – bring on the awesome college players we’re not seeing… the miracles.

  18. Bob - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:04 PM

    Bettman is an ahole. Scheduling NHL playoff games at 3:00 pm on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon in May and June when your core customers (cold weather regions) just got done being squirelled away for 6 months inside. Ya, it’s what I want to do, watch Hockey on a Saturday afternoon when I havn’t seen 70 degree weather in like a year. Maybe it’s because he can’t get the playoff game on prime time TV because Icarly will kick his d**** in the ratings. Buch of wannabee’s.

  19. Andy C - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    That wouldn’t work, particularly for teams like the Anaheim Ducks who had a total of 8 players from their roster participate in the Olympics. How do you replace your best 8 players and continue to be competitive? It’s tantamount to forfeiting all of your games during the Olympics.
    The NHL argument is that the NHL gains nothing from the Olympic tournament; that the Olympics see ALL of the benefits. But after a game like yesterday’s, and a tournament like the one we’ve seen over the last two weeks, I don’t see how it could possibly NOT raise the profile of the NHL and pique the interest of the casual fan who tunes in to watch Olympic hockey.
    The biggest problem the NHL has is its TV contract. There are too few games televised and the ones that are are too difficult to find, particularly out on the West Coast (all Versus games are Eastern games and are over by the time most people get home from work out West). And NBC has all but ignored the Western Division. So the problem rests with the NHL and not the Olympics. I mean, really, how can you expect to capitalize on the momentum generated by the Olympics if even those who go looking for your product can’t find it?

  20. jdunz - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    It’s only a massive PR boost if NBC TELEVISES THE EVENT! Sure, the gold medal game was on the big network, but the first USA/Canada game was on MSNBC. The semifinal games were on CNBC. Unless NBC/IOC promises to put the American and Canadian games in primetime on the big network, Bettman should keep his stars home. Now that the world sees how good these players are, he should use this as a wild card to better promote the NHL.

  21. Cory - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Ah, Ken…..this is the WINTER Olympics. Practicing in the summer will defeat the purpose and injury can happen then too. I think this has to do more with insurance costs than anything. The league just doesn’t want to incur the $$$$$ risk and the NHLPA wants the player in the Olympics.

  22. BIGBRUCE11047 - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Me personally I feel that the Olympic Games are for amateur athletes but like several of the other people who have replied to this, Canada and the U.S. wouldn’t win anything because the other countries pay their athletes to train and/or put their families up so they can concentrate on training. If that’s not being professional I don’t know what is. Yes, let the professionals play in the hockey competition just like the basketball competition in the Summer games.

  23. MikeG - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:15 PM

    Gary Bettman is a terrible business man and has run the NHL into the ground. These past two weeks hockey was mainstream…. this olympics created new hockey fans….. the gold medal game was viewed by more people then the World Series. Did the NHL shut down, yes. Is there a 2 week delay, yes. WHO CARES! You got more exposure for your sport then ever before!
    Yet he will keep a team in Phoenix without the fan fare, neglect to have the winter classic with Boston vs. NYR in Yankee stadium, enforce horrible officiating, etc.

  24. SJJ - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I agree with the comments about the PR boost for the NHL. 10x as many Americans watch Olympic hockey as watch the NHL. A great Olympic hockey tournament like this one could boost the NHL fan base significantly. You can’t buy that kind of exposure. Get some foresight NHL execs and resist the urge to shoot yourselves in the fot

  25. kat - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I am an avid NHL fan. Playing in the olympics and being able to represent your country is an honor to all the athletes, however I think the olympics should be left to the college students trying to make a name for themselves. It would give them a chance to showcase their talents instead of watching players who have already proven they are worthy of the chance.

  26. Glakhmed - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    Doesn’t the NHL do its All Star Game in the middle of the season? What’s the difference between taking a break for the Olympics vs taking a break for the All Star Game? Gary Bettman just doesn’t want to loose the All Star revenue that one year out of four. He is a cancer and is the sole reason why I refuse to financially support the NHL. GET RID OF GARY BETTMAN!

  27. jack - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    It will not matter if he is a American a..hole or Canadian a..hole!
    Business is business. The NHL would be ok if they par-take in 2014.

  28. Brandon Worley - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    The All-Star break is over a weekend. The Olympic break is two weeks. There is a major difference.

  29. Amiller - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    The NHL players should be allowed to play every 4 years. It’s good for the Olympics, good for Hockey and good for their Country as Alex Ovechkin said.

  30. nathan - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    Stephen the reason MLB players do not play in the Olympics is really the saem reason the NFL players do not play in the Olympics. They don’t have a sport to play in the Olympics!

  31. Frank - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    The number of viewers of the gold medal game say it all. People want to be entertained by the best representatives of the various countries. To do otherwise would reduce the enjoyment and purpose of the game. Bettman should consider leaving hockey. He has not done one thing to improve the game. Maybe he should spend his time developing a playoff series between the Stanley Cup champions and the champions of the Kontinental League.That might elevate the staus of the sport in the US.

  32. Tom - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    If the NHL allows its athletes to participate, then they should put the screws to the broadcasting network to televise more games on the main network. While I have satellite, many missed some great hockey on NBC’s minor channels. Don’t see this changing though, too many advertising dollars lost with no TV timeouts in olympic hockey.

  33. Down with Bettman - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    YES…NHLers SHOULD PLAY IN THE OLYMPICS! Nuff said.

  34. Birdman - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    Move it to the summer? Oh you mean when there’s the best chance of so much snow??? lol…. you’ve got to be kidding.

  35. Carol - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    NHL players should be allowed in the Olympics. After all other countries are allowing professions on their teams why not ours. BUT if professionals are allowed to play hockey then the IOC needs to be consistant with the summer games and allow professions in ALL the venues to be professionals. There are still venues in the Olympics that do not allow professionals.

  36. Patrick - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    If Gary Bettman had any respect for the game and the players, there would be no debate. The NHL didn’t even bother to adjust the dates of games, so most players and coaches couldn’t even partipate in the opening and closing ceremonies – how classy. Obviously, these games meant a lot to the players and fans, so if Gary Bettman wants the NHL to thrive and expand into markets like Nashville, Atlanta, Tampa, etc. then he might want to get a clue and realize this game did more for the sport than anything he’s come up with as commissioner. Personally, I wish he’d go back to the NBA and hand the reins over to Don Cherry.

  37. Hockey Mom - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    I think the olympics should be left to the amateurs. After all, that is what is really about, raw, unpaid, talent.

  38. Gary - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    Yes the best players in the world should play at the games. The tournament is like a all star game that is not equalled in any other sport. The spirit of the countries is brought to the forefront. Canceling this opportunity to play would really hurt the hockey games.

  39. Bob - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    Wait! Isn’t basketball a winter sport? Isn’t soccer a winter sport in most of the world?
    Put hockey in the summer games. Or else, get over it and have the great showcase that this is. How many people who don’t watch a typical Atlanta Thrasher/Tampa Bay Lightning game saw this spectacular event?

  40. Erik - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Hockey was originally played in the summer Olympics, back in the 1920’s I believe.

  41. John - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Yesterdays’ game drew more viewers than any NHL game has all year. It would seem as the NHL needs the Olympics to attract more viewers. The NHL could and should learn from Olympic hockey, It is more entertaining. We don’t want to see fights. Let your stick do the talking on the ice. Someone should start an international league, with country teams.

  42. dz of Brooklyn - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    The NHL lost me years ago when they went onto cable, since I’m one of the majority of people in this country who don’t have cable, or a satellite dish. But, I love hockey, at least, when it’s not turned into a farcical boxing match on ice.
    Being able to watch the hockey games on the Olympics was a thrill.
    If the NHL sees more money to be made in cable, and by pulling their players out of the Olympics, that’s their business.
    As I see it, it’s bad business, because they’ve told fans like me that I’m not wanted.

  43. dz of Brooklyn - Mar 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    The NHL lost me years ago when they went onto cable, since I’m one of the majority of people in this country who don’t have cable, or a satellite dish. But, I love hockey, at least, when it’s not turned into a farcical boxing match on ice.
    Being able to watch the hockey games on the Olympics was a thrill.
    If the NHL sees more money to be made in cable, and by pulling their players out of the Olympics, that’s their business.
    As I see it, it’s bad business, because they’ve told fans like me that I’m not wanted.

  44. zaglossus - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    There are the lot of people in the USA who don’t even watch hockey except for the Olympic Games. And only by its exposure in the Olympics can the NHL hope to pick up many new fans (there is just too much of baseball, basketball and football for many of us to have the time and inclination even to tune in to an NHL Game.)
    NHL – stay in the Olympics and continue to provide us on the world stage the best your game can be. And also cut back the number of franchises you currently have.

  45. Patrick - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Actually, it’s funny you should ask . . . I live in Tampa (grew up in Michigan). Obviously, I’m the exception having grown up where I did and playing hockey since I was a kid, but yesterday when Parise scored to tie it up, my whole townhouse complex of about 20 units erupted with cheers (windows were open because it was nice outside). I thought I was the only one in the complex watching the game until then. And then today at work, everybody in my department was talking about it and some of them are native Floridians.

  46. Bummed Out In Bermuda - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    No, they shouldn’t be allowed to play. Just give the Canadians a guaranteed gold medal in hockey every four years and be done with it. There is no reason that NHL teams should send any non-Canadians to the Olympics anyway – they’re just going to lose when they get there just like the Americans did this time.

  47. DavidEsq - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    First, I agree that the NHL players should play in the Olympics. No Canadian fan is turning away from the sport for the two week hiatus, and even if some American fans do, more fans will be introduced to the game though the Olympics PROVIDED that the US goes far in the tournament, as they did this year. the NHL is the 4th major sport in the US (emphasis on the 4th), and some would argue that it is the most watched minor sport here. Therefore, the exposure is a positive for the NHL, and Bettmen would be an idiot from preventing that exposure.
    However, I do want to note that if only amateurs played, Canada and the US would not be relegated to also-rans, as in the old days. Today, all the best Russians, Swedes and Czech’s play in the NHL, KHL or top leagues in Sweden the Czech Republic. In others words, they are professionals as well, no different than the NHL players. It can be argued that today, a Canadian team made up of OHL and QMJHL players (as well as the western Canada junior leagues)might actually be the strongest team out there. Remember that Canada won five straight World Junior Hockey Championship from 2005 – 2009. So while I want to see NHL’s in the Olympics, since it would produce the best hockey, having only amateurs play does not mean that the playing field will not be level.

  48. Anonymous - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:25 PM

    How many people in the US would have watched the hockey final if it were not Canada and USA? If the game yesterday was Slovakia and Finland, nobody would care a about how great the Olympics are for hockey. It was a once in 50 year event.
    As far as moving it to summer- Isn’t basketball a winter sport? What is the difference? Is hockey played outside in the winter Olympics?
    When did the Summit games between the Soviets and Canada used to take place in the 70’s? Not in the middle of the NHL or Euorpean season. What other sport shuts down shop for 2 1/2 weeks in the middle of the season for the Olympics?
    Ovechkin can go play in the next Olympics. After the way he played the last two weeks, it would be good for any opponent to have him on the other team.
    Ken

  49. Jim Canada - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    The best athletes in the world should compete at the Olympics,that is what they exist for. The NHL Owners and their lackey Bettman should realize, I hope, that the game of Hockey and the Olympics are a magnitude more important than their short term, myopic, selfish interests. The NHL owners should be ashamed of their negotiating position, it is unsportsmanlike and embarrassing to anyone whom cares about the game of Hockey. Hockey is bigger than 30 NHL owners, they should get over themselves AND DO THE RIGHT THING.

  50. Nate - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    I’d rather see the days of the amatuer athletes come back to the Olympics in Hockey as well as the other sports.

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