I’ll preface this blog by saying that this is all my personal opinion. Don’t get all pissy at me on Twitter if you disagree.
Letting the NHL players participate in the Olympics would be worth the NHL’s wild. Since NHL players were barred from participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, quite a few fans haven’t looked forward to the Olympics as much, myself included.
I don’t want to throw any shade at the players who participated in 2018. They’re younger kids who get the chance to represent their country and it’s awesome to see them finally get a shot but the NHL players just intensify the games. Those rivalries built between countries translate and build back on NHL ice. Plus when you get to see the best of the best fighting for their home country, it hits different. For example:
A battle as old as time in the current NHL. It’s the classic Canadian vs Russian, a huge rivalry because of the incredibly skilled hockey players that both sides produce. It’s the Pittsburgh vs Washington rivalry expanded. Then, come back home and there it continues. The media has given this storyline a life and it heats up every time there is a national rivalry event.
Not to mention when you take the game across seas, it only helps to grow the game. You’re bringing this sport out into the world and showcasing how great it is. Plus, if there are people over there who already enjoy the NHL, then you are bringing them their favorite players and heroes, something they don’t get to see. And sure there is the Global Games that the NHL hosts at the beginning of the season but how far does that differ from being at the Olympics? People travel to see the Olympics so you get to reach even more people this way.
As much as I am for the NHL being back in the Olympics, I do see both sides of the fence. Such as getting the younger, fresh kids a chance to play. But also looking at some of the bigger problems being injury and season time.
Injury is a huge concern with the Olympics, especially after Crosby’s concussions. But injury happens every day, on and off the ice. Last season, Pastrnak broke his thumb walking to his car. Injury happens all the time.
As for it causing a break in the season, that already happens for the Global Games. This year, the Blackhawks had an awkward gap at the beginning of the season after playing in Europe. Plus if you’re getting good hockey out of it and media attention coming to your league, then it’s worth the gap.
I know there are a million business stipulations in the way, as Pierre LeBrun talked about in this Athletic article that I read. I get that at the end of the day, hockey is still a business but expanding your range and coverage only leads to good things. As a fan of hockey who has been watching for a long time, I can say that I miss NHLers in the Olympics. The games were different from what we watch all season and I’d love to see it come back.
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