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The Olympics are seven months away, but the controversy is just beginning. In what could be considered a first shot in a conflict between the NHLPA, the NHL and multiple Olympic organizations, the union has recommended that their players not participate in on-ice workouts in upcoming Olympic training camps in August.
The reason given by the NHLPA is a concern about a lack of insurance in the event of injury. It’s a valid concern, these athletes do have a short window of earning power, however, the players want to participate in the Olympics, putting them in conflict with their own union.
There is more to the story... The Vancouver games are the last Olympics that the NHL has committed to play. NHL participation in the 2014 Sochi games is up in the air… for multiple reasons.
> Business - Shutting the league down for almost three weeks in the middle of the season is a hardship. For the players, for the clubs and for the league as a whole,
> Exposure - When the Olympics are in the Western hemisphere, it is good exposure for the NHL as shown in the Salt Lake games. The Olympics in Japan and Italy? You could question how effective that was from an exposure perspective, save the ugly hotel room trashing.
> Risks - The risk to players that may be injured and to their clubs… You could make a case that Jaromir Jagr’s injury in 2006 had a significant impact on the Rangers’ season that year.
> Schedule - The shutdown impacts more than just the dark two and a half weeks. It creates a compressed schedule that can have a profound impact to all 30 NHL teams for an entire season.
Those reasons are solid and quite frankly good enough to take a pass on 2014. But there may be a larger one… not allowing the Russian Hockey Federation to benefit from NHL participation in the Sochi games. The battle between the NHL, KHL, IIHF and RHF is joined and becoming nastier by the day. No one will come straight out and say that… no one will admit to it… but that HAS to be part of the decision to play coy with NHL commitments going forward. Will that leverage get the parties to the negotiating table? Don’t count on it…
So… with all that on the table… what do you do?
I believe that it is a good thing for the NHL to participate in the Olympics, we have grown used to seeing the best of the best participate in Olympic team sports. That being said, I don’t think it is fair or right to ask the league to shut down for almost three weeks to do it… so how about a reasonable solution?
Move hockey to the Summer Olympics.
Before you go nuts… think about it… The World Cup of Hockey has been played at around the same time as the summer games. Basketball is thought of as an indoor winter sport, and it is played in the summer games, has been for quite awhile. The NBA can participate with minimal impact to their season. It’s a solid idea that needs to be explored as it solves most of the issues surrounding the NHL’s participation
Except that pesky KHL / Russian Hockey Federation problem…
So… what are your thoughts?
Should the NHL continue its’ participation in the Olympics… And if so… How should the league proceed?
What about moving hockey to the Summer games?
There was some great discussion on the Versus/NBC/ESPN thread… I look forward to seeing your thoughts on this subject…
The signing of Ben Eaves has drawn a collective yawn from Pred Nation. Another Milwaukee depth move.
Salary Arbitration hearings begin today. This may bear watching as the Predators have been known to go after players who’s team rejects the arbitrators decision. A couple of interesting names are on the list, including Kyle Wellwood, Tuomo Ruutu, and Nikolai Zherdev.
The most interesting situation may end up being the Jiri Hudler situation. Detroit is trying to prevent him from going to the KHL, where Hudler has a pending contract for $5 million a season.
You are invited to follow me on Twitter. Search for PredPAPaul… Not only will I be updating when I get news or updates… I’ll also be updating during Pred home games in season with information and explanations from the PA box.
HockeyBuzz Radio is on hiatus until October… we’ll be weighing on conditioning camp and may even put up a podcast or two during the summer. Keep checking in at www.hockeybuzzradio.com for the latest on the upcoming season and regular columns from hockey writer Mark McGee.