January 25, 2018
By: Gwen Begley
The winter Olympics are always something that I look forward to. The skiing, the snowboarding, the figure skating, but especially the ice hockey. What is better than seeing your favorite players on the same team competing for something bigger than themselves? The logo, the fame, the averages all go out the window as players don the symbol of their country and strive for a dream I’m sure they have had all of their lives.
Every four years the Olympics feature the BEST and brightest that each country that is able to participate has to offer. Unfortunately, that is not the case this year, at least for ice hockey.
This falls on the NHL and the IOC, and their inability to come to an agreement. The IOC said they would no longer cover costs of NHL travel, lodging etc. Owners didn’t want their players injured in international competition. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman complained about the Olympics break being disruptive (only for you, Gary).
Now, instead of seeing the best, we will be seeing the second or third or fourth best. To give you an idea, the youngest guy on Team Canada just turned 25, second youngest is hailing from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL). Most players on the USA and Canadian roster are currently playing overseas because they lack the skill or youth to compete at the NHL and AHL level.
An argument some people have for being against the NHL’s participation is that they don’t want “pro’s” in the Olympics. Clearly, people who make that argument have no idea the definition of that word, and have been living under a rock since the 1980’s. Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, etc. are all considered “professional”. They are sponsored athletes and get paid to perform. Also, American Hockey League players are professional, they get paid to play ice hockey, therefore, are professional. Point rejected.
Don’t get me wrong, the AHL is very fun to watch and I enjoy going to games almost every weekend. The players are talented and driven, they are just not good enough yet to play in the NHL. Some of them will eventually make it there, but a lot will not. Therefore, the best and the brightest will not be representing our countries.
No matter how many Stanley Cups you win for a city you likely aren’t from, there is always something special about playing for and bringing pride to the country you were born and raised in. I feel terrible for those NHL players that had that dream striped away from them. Shame on you, NHL.