Well now the debate will really begin. The pressure will be on from a public point of view, it’ll be on from a Canadian point of view, and it’ll likely be on from a player point of view. Do you or don’t you go to South Korea in 2018? I understand the owners side of things. Charles Wang had to watch his superstar go down for the rest of the season while wearing a team Canada uniform. But of course this is only the owners 2nd greatest fear in terms of going to the Olympics.
The number 1 fear for them of course is money. The Olympics don’t help the owners financially. But they have to remember why they went to the Olympics in the first place. It was intended to grow the game, and so they went to Japan in 1998. At that time, the whole motto of Gary Bettman’s owners was to spend money to grow the game. They were willing to go to the Olympics, spend millions to keep teams in markets like Phoenix, Miami, and Raleigh. It wasn’t about the short term, it was about the long term.
We as Canadians hated it, but you are starting to see major signs that it has worked. Slowly, but surely it has worked. So what is wrong with trying to grow it in South Korea? Will they? It’s doubtful, we haven’t seen any signs that the game took in Japan (not to sterotype Asian countries, just that hockey isn’t anywhere close to the radar in either country). But you never know.
But what I DO in fact know is that a World Cup of hockey should happen, but it shouldn’t replace the Olympics….at least not yet. Now why am I saying that? Because hockey gets major attention in the United States when it is best on best in the Olympics. Look at what happened when they played Russia. The entire country was watching and T.J. Oshie instantly became a household name….and that was just a round robin game!
A World Cup of hockey will get nowhere near that same attention that the Olympics will, and it maybe never will. But at least keep going to the Olympics while you establish the World Cup of hockey. And if you’re going to have a World Cup of hockey, then you have to do it at mid season, in between the Olympics. So that would mean that you do the first one in 2016. So why then? Well, it is a dead time of year on the sports calender. Sure the NHL and NBA are normally going. But the NFL is done, MLB hasn’t started up yet, and the NCAA tournament is still about a month away. It is a perfect time to strike. If you do it when you have done the Canada Cup’s and World Cup’s previously (early September) you are competing with both the NFL and college football. You will not receive attention in the States.
Another factor I’m sure that will play into this is where the 2022 Olympic games end up going. I recall 2006, and at that time it was said the NHL was only going to Torino Italy because they would for sure be going to Vancouver in 2010. What happens if the 2022 games are awarded to Calgary (who are rumored to be considering bidding for the 2022 games)? You’re going then. So then why only pull out for 2018, which was the same logic as to why they went to Torino.
It’ll be intriguing to follow, and the NHL claims they will make their decision in 6 months. I think they’ll end up feeling the pressure to go yet again, and it’ll muddy things up and in no way will they make a call in 6 months. I wouldn’t be surprised if the comments from a bunch of the owners and talking about making a quick decision to not go is just a ploy by the NHL to try to get the I.O.C. to fork over some of the revenue in return for the NHL going, but that is just my theory.
Now, before I end this, I thought wouldn’t it be fun to take my first stab at what the team Canada roster would look like. First of all, I’m going to guess that with Steve Yzerman already saying he isn’t going to come back to be Canada’s Executive Director, that Bob Nicholson wastes little time asking Joe Sakic to do it. Also, I believe with Wayne Gretzky not involved with a team that he might be a candidate to come back to the job. One more thought, although it would be extremely difficult to pull off….what if you allow the cook to buy the groceries? Would they maybe consider offering the duel role of Executive Director and head coach to Mike Babcock? Lots of options. Here is what the team could look like….I hope your floor is clean because your jaw might hit it.
Tavares – Crosby – Stamkos
McDavid – Toews – MacKinnon
Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Bergeron
Benn – Getzlaf – Perry
Other possible options:
Keith – Doughty
Rielly – Weber
Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo
M.Staal – Subban
Other possible options: Vlasic/Letang/Alzner/Ryan Murray/Nurse/Hamilton/G.Reinhart/Morrissey/Morin/Gormley
Other possible options: Holtby/Fleury/Ward/Allen
People can make fun of the hockey summit that was held after the 1998 Olympics, but we have benefited from it. Won 5 straight Golds at the WJC, and EASILY could have been 7. Sure we haven’t won it now in 5 years, but only 1 of those years did we have all hands on deck. If we had all our guys and were on NHL ice every year, we would hardly ever lose. 3 out of 4 Golds now in hockey. The year we didn’t win is pretty widely regarded as the most messed up season in NHL history due to the 2005 lockout and all the rule changes that took place in the 05-06 season.
NHL owners…go. It can only help grow the game. You just signed a 5.25 billion dollar TV deal. Revenue’s are going through the freaking roof. You have 4 years to budget for 2 weeks of dark rinks….which really is a lie because those 3 or 4 gates you don’t get in that time get made up for. It’s not as if the NHL knocks 8 games off the schedule to do this. If you’re serious about wanting to continually grow the game, then you’ll go.
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