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Brian Burke explains why NHL has its doubts about going to 2014 Olympics during Summit

Aug 25, 2010, 8:40 PM EDT

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Thumbnail image for brianburke1.jpgThe World Hockey Summit might not be heavy in actual, tangible news but it has provided some puck-based emotional outbursts. Take, for instance, IIHF president’s stance that he would “fight like hell” to stop the NHL from expanding in Europe, even though that idea is probably not on the horizon any time soon.

When you’re looking for passionate hockey banter, turn to Toronto Maple Leafs (USA Olympic hockey team) GM Brian Burke. After hearing opening remarks that spoke glowingly about the NHL’s involvement in the once-every-four-years event, Burke passionately addressed the league’s own concerns.

The Leafs’ GM, an unabashed fan of Olympic hockey and the GM of Team USA in Vancouver, couldn’t hide his displeasure at what he considered the uninformed minimization of the NHL’s concerns with shutting down its season.

“It’s just not that simple,” Burke declared. “And we’re letting it become an emotional issue in this room.

“I do believe, and the Toronto Maple Leafs believe, that NHL players should go to the Olympics. But there’s a big IF — if and only if some of our concerns are addressed.”

[snip]

But Burke and Healy joined forces in arguing forcefully that NHL general managers and medical personnel must have more access to NHL players during international events such as Olympic Games and the annual IIHF World Championships.

For fans and hockey writers, Olympic participation is a no-brainer. The issue is a little more complicated for the league, though, so I think it’s important that Burke and others have the chance to argue their side of the story.

Much like the feared could-be lockout, NHL executives have some time to decide whether or not they want to send their players to the Olympics again in 2014. It will be an interesting story to watch, even if we’ll only receive nuggets of information since Bettman and Co. are playing it pretty close to the vest so far.

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