We are eight days away from the puck dropping on the 2014 Winter Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. To be honest I do enjoy watching Olympic hockey it might be bad news for NHL fans and teams.
The Olympic tournament is a long grind, and so is the NHL schedule. For teams making a playoff push this Olympic break couldn’t come at a worse time. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets; who are among the hottest teams this long break could kill any momentum they have built up, and for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Phoenix Coyotes who are in a fight for a Wild Card spot this Olympics could be a death sentence. If they lose a player in the Olympics their fight could be over.
Being “invited” to play for one’s country is an honor, and most people understand that, but for the GM’s and NHL fans the Olympics could be one of the most stressful time of the season. It’s full of worry, and concern. The hard part is there is nothing anyone can do about it. Players want to play, and countries need them to play. But, I’m not so sure they should play.
The NHL is coming off a descent showing in the Stadium series, and the league is in the middle of a reputation problem. Olympic hockey is not going to help their reputation; it’s going to raise questions. Questions like why can’t the NHL play more of an international style? It could bring up the no fighting questions again. But, for the NHL the biggest blow could come if a star player goes down. This tournament could be the stuff nightmares are made of.
Now, I’m not saying it all negative. The Olympics will offer the chance for people around the world to watch NHL stars play the game. It will also allow time for non-Olympians to rest and recover. If the NHL is lucky it could boost viewership coming out of the Olympic break. Time will tell if the Olympics are a bad thing or not, but I do know one thing; no NHL front office will rest easy until a gold medal is hung around a players neck.