Ok, let's talk about the Olympics. I promise not to go off on a tirade about how the spirit of the Olympics has been compromised, if not already lost, with the entrance of professional athletes and how greed rather than pride in representing one's country is the primary motivating factor in the pros' participation. I promise.
That said, let's look at a couple of issues raised by the entrance of the NHL into the Gold Medal race.
Here we have a group of athletes all living in Canada and the United States, playing together or against each other on their individual teams. All these players are expected on a daily basis to either cooperate or "hate" other players depending on whether or not they wear the proper sweater. Suddenly, in January, the teams get scrambled and players have to switch allegiance and embrace or repel their previous enemy/friend. And just a couple of weeks later, it all goes back to the way it was before. Confusing? Think of how the players will be. Individual player trades are one thing, but wholesale player movements like this hint at total chaos in February!
For the sake of a Gold Medal, these professional hockey players are expected to and will play the games of their lives. It'll be the Stanley Cup Championship series in Japanese! So, what happens if one of these NHL Stars gets injured? The Olympics are over in two weeks or so, but the NHL season is only half way through. Who suffers the loss of a key player? The fans who shell out big bucks for season tickets, that's who! The tv viewers of the Olympics in Italy, Japan, Brazil, etc. will forget all about the hockey heroics within a week or two, but franchise cities will follow these guys for 4 months more and mourn any losses greatly.
Some of the player selections are a complete joke! A Canadian team without Messier?! Come on! Mark may be having a rough time in Vancouver, but he is a STAR in capital letters. If you can find room on Team Canada for Wayne Gretzky, you can find room for Mark Messier. Check this year's stats...where is the name Gretzky...anywhere? His selection is based purely on past glories. Don't even ask me about Keith Primeau's inclusion! Hopefully, the Canadian coaches won't live to regret their choices. I'd really like to see Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman in the winners' circle!
I have to admit that I was amused by the Russian roster. For what ever reason, I'm glad to see Detroit's Russians staying home here in the US. That's three less injuries that we don't have to worry about. It appears Fedorov's sulking cost him his place in Nagano, at least for now. Will Sergei give in soon so that he can play in Japan? Should be an interesting month!
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