It appears the NHL’s history in the Olympics is in jeopardy after all. According to a CBC article, Gary Bettman is rethinking its policy of a midseason Olympic break.
It’s a “strain on all the players,” according to Bettman, which makes sense. That might have been the case with Free Agent center Peter Forsberg, who has played for four NHL teams, as well as three Olympics, six World Championships, and two World Cups of Hockey. Along with 706 NHL Games, 59 international games, it does a number on you, makes you more susceptible to injury.
If NHL players don’t go starting with he 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, I’m sure the popularity of Olympic Hockey wouldn’t drop off the map, or drop off at all. I’m sure this would spell the end for the World Junior Championships, and extend Canada’s dominance.
In the last ten Olympics, six different countries have won the gold medal: The Soviet Union, United States, Unified team, (a collection of Soviet Republics), Sweden, Czech Republic, and Canada.
Conversely, over the same ten-year span, only four different teams have won gold in the WJC: Russia, Czech Republic, The United States, and Canada. Canada is currently on a winning streak that spans a total of four years.
The NHL already has world tournaments in place to showcase NHL talent in the global realm, so I think it would be a plus if the IOC brought back the pre 1994 Olympics for college and junior hockey players to show their talent. It might put Team USA at a disadvantage, but that’s okay with me.