For many players in the NHL who grew up in Europe, winning the gold medal in the Winter Olympic Games is the highest peak they could reach in their hockey careers. For many European players, winning the Stanley Cup is a nice accomplishment, but it is nowhere close to winning a gold medal for your home country.
For young hockey players in North America, the biggest accomplishment you can have in your hockey career is to win the Stanley Cup. The Olympics is the opposite for our countries. It is nice to win, but it is not The Cup.
For the NHL, hockey is a business. The loyalty of their fanbase is to the teams primarily. For proof of that, go to any NHL arena that has a few Olympians. Take the city of Pittsburgh, for example. You can go to any Pittsburgh Penguins home game and see fans wearing Team USA, Team Canada or Team Russia jerseys for players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik. Fans love the jerseys and the NHL has to enjoy the revenue, however, the NHL has to hate the Winter Olympics.
If you are a player in the NHL and the Olympics come around, it has to be exciting to see your NHL team’s fans wearing the sweaters of your home country with your name on the back. However, NHL athletes should not play in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
For NHL players who are going to Sochi, Russia it is just not a good idea.
For one thing, the location that this year’s Winter Olympics are being held is near a hot-bed of terrorist activities. We saw what happened at a huge event with many countries being involved like the Boston Marathon last year. It was a terrible tragedy and one that I pray never happens again. The location of where these terrorist were from was near where the Olympics will be held. If you were an NHL player, would you really want to be in a place like that?
In my opinion, the biggest factor on why NHL players should not play in the 2014 Winter Olympics is because of the labor strike last season. The NHL players have been put through a very rigorous season just one year ago. With a jam-packed NHL season, many games will be hard fought and very close together in the schedule. That means more serious injuries can and probably will occur on the ice. Do you want your favorite and best player on your team going down with a nagging injury due to his play in the Olympics this season? Of course you don’t, and the NHL does not need their best players getting hurt.
It is too late to really change anything about it. The national teams are already selected and the players will be competing in this year’s Winter Olympics. Let’s just hope that these players who are playing are making the right decision for their season and their NHL team’s season.