Did the NHL kill men’s ice hockey for the Winter Olympics?
When the 1980 US men’s hockey team upset the Ussr and proceeded to win gold, they achieved using a roster brimming with hidden players. Thirty-eight years later, Team USA will ever try to win its first gold because “Miracle On Ice” with a similar roster of unknowns with out names.
Mark Arcobello, a 5ft 8in, 29-year old forward who last played in the NHL when using the Toronto Maple Leafs two seasons ago and today draws a paycheck from Bern SC of your Swiss-A league, where they are an excellent scorer. Defenseman Jonathon Blum, a 2007 first-round pick within the Nashville Predators who struggled to remain inside the NHL and has now instead spent his last three seasons in Russia’s KHL. Goalie David Leggio, a 33-year old minor league veteran now happening his career in Germany. Players with similarly middling resumes fill up the vast majority of entire 25 roster spots for your US team that can open experience Wednesday against Slovenia. Meanwhile, some 10,000km away within the similar day, American hockey superstar Auston Matthews will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Toronto.
When the NHL chose last April that it wouldn’t allow its players to sign up inside the Olympics the very first time since 1994, it doomed the men’s hockey in Pyeongchang to second-rate, rag tag status. Or blessed it, if you prefer. “I loved the NHL players, there is however something fresh regarding the format this period,” US coach Tony Granato said the government financial aid January. “We’re gonna take advantage of that. We need to see how good we’re.”
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To make that happen, Granato should borrow the famous Herb Brooks/Kurt Russell quote from Miracle, the superb documentary on the 1980 Olympics, if your legendary coach tells his underdog team: “You think you possibly can win on talent alone? Gentleman, you do not possess enough talent to win on talent alone.” As there is a particular nostalgic feel towards the men’s ice hockey tournament this year, united states is not alone in being made to play without its top talent. Sidney Crosby come in Pittsburgh, not in Pyeongchang. Henrik Lundqvist happen to be in the online for your struggling Los angeles Rangers team, not in the role of the anchor to Sweden’s latest medal winner. And Alexander Ovechkin have been around in his standard Washington Capitals jersey, not pulling to the new sweater from the “Olympic Athletes from Russia.” There is absolutely no talent-laden heavy favorite in such a year’s tournament. No 1980 Soviet Union. In actual fact, there technically isn’t obviously any good Russia. It does not take 1980 Lake Placid Olympics again, however, if the entire tournament appeared away from the underdogs.
What no one knows, and sure won’t for a long time, is actually the 2010 superstar-free men’s tournament is a one-off event or maybe the new normal. The NHL won’t get along with returning its players to your Olympics for Beijing in 2022. “I never say never, nonetheless find it hard to envision circumstances where the time is right unless, possibly, the cold winter months Games are back in The us the location where the time period, as well as the attention, and the logistics and travel are a lot different,” league commissioner Gary Bettman told SV Sport in November, doubling down on his opinion that closing the NHL for a couple weeks for the Olympics is not worth the money coming from a marketing perspective. How showcasing the very best ice hockey players on this planet prior to the massive Chinese market in 2022 is far from an enormous win for the sport only is a good idea inside the minds in the NHL’s marketing department, needless to say. They’re precisely the same individuals who thought it smart to broadcast just three of Connor McDavid’s 82 games there is much surprise nationally in the country and chose Kid Rock to accomplish ultimately month’s All-Star Game.
Lack of talent is very little feature around the women’s side in Pyeongchang. In Team USA’s opening 3-1 conquer Finland, the deciding goal was set up by a beautiful pass from Hilary Knight, one of many faces of your sport. Knight plays professionally to the Boston Pride, although the NWHL thought i would shutter over the Olympics so its players could compete in Pyeongchang. Stopping play with the NWHL’s four teams compared to the 31 inside the NHL is undoubtedly a positive change, as is also the reality that the NHL has national TV exposure nine months per year as opposed to the women’s game getting just the Olympic stage every 4 years. Though the truth remains which the women’s tournament will feature the perfect players on the earth in Pyeongchang although men’s side is filled players who on a monthly basis from now that happen to be back playing in backwater towns.
There’s hockey for each and every type of these Olympics. Watch the women’s side for elite skill. Watch the men’s side for players getting once-in-a-lifetime shots to play with regards to teammates along with country while you’re watching planet. Anything could happen. Canada can’t you need to be penciled in to the medal round like every other year. It’s actually a welcome change of pace. Like Granato says, there will be something fresh about it. This particular one time. If you get it again in 2022, it’ll feel plenty stale.