Throughout the 2014 Sochi games, we heard a lot of talk about whether the players will return from the Olympic tournament fatigued and how that would affect play as the NHL moves into the home stretch to the playoffs. That is a valid concern, and I am sure more than a few players are already feeling a little more worn out than they normally would be at this point in the NHL season. However, they will push through the bumps and bruises, as that is what they are paid to do.
One thing that was overlooked is how the Olympic tournament would affect the fans watching the games. Normally around the time of the Olympic break, the NHL would be gearing up for its All-Star Weekend, which includes a week long All-Star break. At that point, players not taking part in the All-Star festivities get a week away from hockey and get to recharge on a beach in someplace warm. The fans get to enjoy the lighter side of hockey with the skills competition, fantasy draft, and a game that no one really cares about.
The All-Star break provide enough hockey to keep NHL fans entertained, but all gives us a brief breather from the NHL action. That way, when the NHL returns to action the following weak, everyone is fired up and ready for the push to the playoffs.
With the month long Olympic break, just like the players taking part in the tournament, the fans didn’t get a break from the action. While that’s a great thing as a hockey fan, the Olympic tournament had all of the drama and heartbreak of the NHL playoffs, all a mere two months before the NHL playoffs. Now that NHL hockey has returned, I find myself feeling a little burnt out / let down by the NHL action.
The NHL tried to bring things back with a bang this weekend with the Stadium Series game at Soldier Field, as well as the Heritage Classic, but even the outdoor spectacle has lost its charm. Let’s face it, we all have a bit of an Olympic hangover right now.
I am sure that once we get a little closer to the NHL playoffs things will pick up, and I will be just as fired up as ever. Right now, I am just thankful the one month Olympic “break” is something that occurs only once every four years.