So the team has been named, the moment Canadians had been waiting for since the last Olympics ended in 2006. Now the debate can begin on who should be there and who shouldn’t be there, why this team will win, why this team won’t win, and all the other fun topics. As it concerns the Flames, the debate will be about whether or not Phaneuf, Bouwmeester or Regehr should have been named to the team. Well, I have a confession: I couldn’t care less. I suppose that’s a little harsh, and I guess what I mean is that I’m not concerned, in fact, I’m happy there aren’t many Flames playing in this year’s games.
It isn’t that I won’t be cheering for Team Canada during the Olympics; it’s just that when it comes to hockey, my main concern is the Stanley Cup, not a Gold Medal. I’d rather see the Flames win the cup this year, than Canada win a hundred gold medals. As far as I’m concerned, Bouwmeester, Phaneuf and Regehr not being named to Team Canada only helps the Flames.
This year, there will only be three Flames playing in the Olympics in Vancouver; Iginla for Canada, and Jokinen and Kiprusoff for Finland. These three players won’t have the benefit of a two week break in the middle of the year, and as a result may tire as the season winds down. How often do we hear that Kiprusoff plays too much as it is, and as a result is always tired come playoff time? Well, I wish he wasn’t playing in Vancouver, giving him that time off for some much deserved rest. The Olympics also bring in a risk factor for players getting injured. What would the reaction be of any NHL fan if one of their team’s star players were injured? If Iginla or Kiprusoff were to go down with an injury, the Flames’ season would likely be over. As a fan, I don’t see any reward to this risk, and hence it isn’t one I’m interested in taking.
I see too many downsides to NHL players playing in the Olympics, and I hope this will be the final time we see this. So far, there isn’t an agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA to play in the 2014 games in Russia, and I don’t see one coming together either. I can’t foresee any circumstances where the NHL owners would release their prized assets to play in some games in the middle of the night on the other side of the planet. The argument is that having the NHL players play in the Olympics is good exposure for the league, but is it really? In Salt Lake City at the 2002 games, all the stars were aligned, with a Canada-USA showdown for the gold medal. Did this do anything to expand the game’s audience in the United States? No, TV numbers are lower than ever. In Canada, the game doesn’t need anymore exposure, and if there weren’t any NHL players in the Olympics, Canadians would still be watching and cheering the team on. In fact, if the team was made up of junior players, judging from the annual World Junior tournament I think Canada’s chances for gold would be far greater.
I’ll still be cheering on Team Canada, (probably not by yelling Eh, O, Canada Go!), but I’ll make sure to have my fingers crossed that neither Iginla or Kiprusoff (and even Jokinen I guess) are injured as they battle it out for Olympic Gold.
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