Thursday, November 29, 2007

OPINION: Send them to the Olympics!

A recent report out of Canada states that the NHL is considering pulling NHL player participation from the Olympics following the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

That’s a mistake.

First off, I’ve spoken to a lot players about this subject since the 2006 Olympics and they want the chance to play for their country on the international stage. And they should be able to play if they want too.

Secondly, the NHL would be stupid not to let the players go. The Olympics are always a big deal. Granted, Ice Hockey doesn’t get the mega headlines as Figure Skating at the Olympics, but it is put on the international stage. And why wouldn’t the NHL want their star players to be on the big international stage? After all, the league is planning to host regular-season games in Europe again next season. So wouldn’t this fall into line with their plan to grow the game internationally?

Now the chances of another Miracle on Ice coming along are slim, but the Olympics have a way of turning a few stories every time around into one of those feel-good attention grabbers. If it involved hockey, it would do wonders for the games – again, both internationally and here in the United States.

So what if the season gets shutdown for two weeks every four years. It gives some players a chance to heal injuries, rest and get better for the stretch run. If you think it will kill momentum, just think of the momentum there is to be gained from an incredible Olympic tourney?

Lastly, as a throw-a-way point, how many times have you caught yourself watching an Olympic sport that you never watched before. Probably just because it’s on and you’re feeling patriotic and want that American to win. Sometimes you get hooked onto the sport and when the Olympics are over, you’re watching it on ESPN Ocho. The point is the Olympics also have a way of turning people onto sports they didn’t follow before. And the last time I checked, the NHL could never have enough fans.

In 2014, the NHL should go to Olympics. It’s the smart and right thing to do.

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