Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Olympic Bone

Hockey Rodent writes about how the NHL have used the Olympics as a bargaining chip with the players. Both sides probably want NHL players in the Olympics, but the NHL pretended they didn't so that they could concede on that point in exchange for NHLPA concessions. I buy this as a plausible argument.

It seems clear that the NHL public relations machine is using the Olympics to throw a bone to the Canadian hockey mad public. The Canadian press is full of articles like this about Wayne Gretzky being general manager of the team. He's a great figurehead, who did try to take the pressure of the players in the last Olympics, but you or I or any other knowledgable fan could pick a team. Even if we didn't havbe exactly the same choices, the discrepancies wouldn't be too significant. There is even an article here trying to pick the players who will be on Team Canada. That is a bit of a crapshoot at this point. Many players proposed have not played hockey at a high level in over a year. The younger rising stars who have been ignored (because we don't know who they are) are going to be a couple years more developed. The older established players will be a couple years older still. I predict that several "no brainer" selections at this point fail to make the team when they do not play at their previous levels and are replaced by people who are not yet on the radar who fly out of the gate when the NHL returns.

Nothing much is happening in hockey. The Olympics are months away. But the hockey writers in hockey deprived Canada get something to write about. The NHL threw them a bone. The remaining hockey mad fans get something to talk about.

For another look in the less hockey mad regions of the world. I cannot find any articles whatsoever about the US Olympic hockey team. Do any exist? Is that not the NHL's problem and the reason for this lockout in a nutshell?

How real is this bone anyway? Bob McKenzie writes this about the Olympics:

In the meantime, we'll get dribs and drabs of information that may or may not prove to be accurate.

Take NHL participation in the Olympics, for instance.

Yes, the league and the players' association will agree to that, but if IOC president Jean Jacques Rogge isn't as accommodating as his predecessor Juan Antonio Samaranch was in regards to insurance coverage and tickets and accommodations for players and their families, well, it sort of takes us back to where we started.

If the NHL players are going to be in the Olympics, there had better be a better prelim round or the NHL figure out a way to get the GM's to agree to let all of them play.

I can't suffer another Olympic year and watch Slovakia not even qualify because all their players aren't available.
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