The last Winter Olympics gave us an instant classic in the second installment of USA vs. Canada.
Zach Parise’s goal with less than 30 seconds in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime was one of the greatest goals ever scored and Sidney Crosby’s goal sadly belongs in the same realm.
But the NHL should consider itself lucky. There were no serious injuries reported over the course of international play.
The teams most represented in these tournaments are normally the top-tier hockey clubs, and for the NHL it could be potentially devastating to lose a player like Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Alex Ovechkin for extended periods of time in games that don’t even matter to your league.
Plus these games don’t really translate into good publicity for the league. They are almost like all-star games.
The competition at the bottom was not very good and teams like Germany and Latvia saw a lot of their games hit 10 total goals, most of which were scored by the other teams.
The worst team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers, will still give a team like the Capitals or Sharks a run for their money. And a game with that much offense is very rare to see in NHL play.
The NHL is gracious enough to let these guys put on their countries’ sweaters and I don’t blame them for that but at the same time you have to keep your product working. By letting them play outside of your realm, you’re allowing for too much risk.
If you are like me, and millions of other people around the world, then you were glued to the TV screen on Sunday afternoon watching the USA vs. Canada gold medal hockey game. With everyone in the United States hoping the Americans would bring home a gold medal for the first time since the 1980 Winter Games.
If you watched, you saw Canadian Sydney Crosby become a national hero, scoring the winning goal past the American Ryan Miller in overtime.
Now what do those two names have in common? They are both NHL players.
If you take NHL players out of the Olympics then you are doing two things.
First, you are taking excitement away from the fans by watching players that they know aren’t playing the best hockey there can be. Second, you are hurting the players that play in the NHL because they would not be able to represent their country in what should be the single greatest moment of their professional careers.
Maybe this isn’t true in America, but the Olympics are kind of a big deal around the world.
Thousands of athletes, all around the world, dream of representing their country in the grandest athletic stage of them all, in hopes of becoming national icons.
If the NHL players are stripped of this right to represent their country then we are saying the NHL is more important than national pride and bigger than the Olympics, which may be different for some, but for me is completely wrong.