It’s easy to assume that the upcoming Olympic break can harm a team like the Chicago Blackhawks. Ten players representing five countries will compete for the Gold Medal while the rest stay behind (or go to Mexico for a couple days to take a breather). There’s always a risk of injury when competing in international competition, although the same risk exists in regular club competition.
The concern comes from not just the number of Hawks going to Sochi, but who. Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews represent Canada; Michal Rozsival will play for the Czech Republic; Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa will wear Slovakian colors; Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Johnny Oduya play for Sweden; and Patrick Kane will be the Hawks’ lone Team USA player. Naturally, there will be some concerns over this.
However, history is on the Hawks’ side. The last time multiple Blackhawks represented their countries in the Olympics, they won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. History could repeat itself, but with the way they’ve been playing for much of the 2014 calendar year, it will be difficult for that to happen. Still, precedent doesn’t hurt in the least.
The players who won’t be going to Sochi will have some time to relax. Brandon Bollig said that he and some of the other players will be going down to Mexico to unwind. It’s a good idea that these players will be taking a rest. You need all the rest you can get in a physically and emotionally taxing season. It should come in handy during crunch time.
There are certainly reasons to be concerned, but also reasons to not be concerned. In all likelihood, the chance to represent their countries will give the Olympians an extra drive to win the Cup, and the extra rest should help the non-Olympians. Granted, the end result won’t be known until after the Olympics, but there’s definitely plenty of reasons not to be.