January 8, 2014

Canada’s Olympic ice hockey team: Who cares?

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey, Olympics

I’m sure everyone is waiting on my opinion of Canada’s Olympic men’s ice hockey team so I can sum it up for you in two words: Who cares?

Now, before calling for my head and saying that I don’t love Canada – which I have been accused of before – hear me out.

No matter who gets named to Team Canada, rest assured the roster will be stacked. Great players will be left out in favour of players that some won’t feel are justified to get the ticket to Sochi.

Every media outlet will put together a list of players that would be Canada’s ‘B squad’ and it will still look like a squad of world-beaters. That’s just how stacked our country is at the sport.

If you look down the rosters of other countries, you will no doubt see multiple guys on each squad that haven’t made a NHL all-star game or won’t in the near future, which isn’t something you can say about anyone on this roster of Canadians.

Really, there’s nothing important to debate about this team. Any way you slice it, this is a team of stars that will do their best in a month’s time to repeat on 2010’s success.

The real matter to talk about is 2018, when the Olympics are in Pyongchang, South Korea. Hopefully by then we won’t have to deal with these needless debates because the NHL won’t be sending its players to the Games. Really, they shouldn’t be heading to Sochi either, but I suspect that was a deal made mainly to keep the players happy during the most recent lockout – remember that? It ended almost exactly a year ago.

But, with most Russian players – including superstar Alex Ovechkin – talking about leaving to play in the Games even without team permission, we’re guessing the league didn’t want to face a mutiny so early into labour peace.

Here’s the thing about the Pyongchang Game – the time difference will make it very hard for the league to market their stars to North America. That could be the tipping point for seeing NHLers in Olympic Games – something that should have ended years ago.

It’s already beyond ridiculous that the league stops for two weeks mid-season; it would make even less sense to do it without getting a nice marketing boost from the players it’s losing for that time.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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