Personally I love that the NHL sends players to the Olympics, although I truly believe that this will be the last installment that the NHL will participate in the winter games. With injuries to some key players and affecting the teams that pay their salary, the NHL has found out there are many cons, as apposed to pros, for sending their elite talent and closing business for 2 plus weeks.
The first Olympics that NHLer's participated in were in Nagano, Japan in 1998. During that time the NHL needed a boost to promote the sport globally and decided this would expand the game to more of the world. In retrospect, I believe they were trying to expand hockey to the Asian market. Hockey already had good traction in Europe and North America, yet was lacking in the most populous continent. Since those games there hasn't been a single person from Japan, China or Korea to play in the NHL. Although, we are seeing players from different countries throughout Europe making the NHL. Anze Kopitar is from Slovenia, Lars Eller and Frans Nielsen from Denmark, Zemgus Girgensons from Latvia and many more players coming from Switzerland. Back in 1998 these countries had no NHL participation in any international competition. Now they are getting the coaching necessary as well to compete against the big boys.
As I mentioned earlier is the injuries. John Tavares is done for the season after hurting his knee and done for the season. Any chance the New York Islanders had at making the playoffs have pretty much gone out the window. He's not the only significant injury. Mats Zuccarello(New York Rangers leading scorer), Paul Martin(Pittsburgh Penguin top 4 Dman) and Henrik Zetterberg(Detroit Red Wing captain and leading scorer) are just to name a few. There absence will be truly missed by there NHL teams and opportunities to make the playoffs could be in jeopardy.
We know the players want to represent their countries at the biggest event, yet their just seems to be to much risk now for the NHL to participate in the games anymore. Between the insurance that is needed, the travel and even the safety for the players are escalating for every games that is seems like such a high risk low reward deal, especially for the owners.
I hope the gold medal game is an absolutely unforgettable game. It may tip the scales on the biggest stage and people will say 'wow', because personally I think it will be the last time NHL players will participate in the Olympics. If that is the case, then the NHL better get the World/Canada cup better get going again. Watching the best of the best represent their country is truly awesome and we should all be gracious as fans to watch our favorite players play the game we all love and cherish.