TURIN, Italy - The NHL will review several factors — including the risk of injury — before deciding if it will commit to sending players to the Olympics past the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Friday that the length of the break needed to accommodate the Olympics will also be considered. The NHL agreed to shut down for these Olympics and Vancouver as part of the labor agreement reached with the players union last summer.
“There are a number of factors — how long of a break, and whether that break is beneficial to the season we’re trying to have in North America,” Daly said. “Injuries are also an issue and a concern of our clubs and our players.”
Two high-profile NHL players, Ottawa Senators goalie Dominik Hasek (groin) and New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias (ribs), were injured during the first two days of Olympic play with the Czech Republic. Hasek will miss the rest of the Turin Games. Also, Philadelphia forward Peter Forsberg may try to play in Turin for Sweden despite missing his last eight games with a sore groin, a major worry to the Flyers.
NHL Players Association chief Ted Saskin also hasn’t made up his mind whether to support Olympics participation past 2010.
To take part in the Olympics, the NHL shut down for 17 days for the 1998 Nagano Games and 12 days in for the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. The league will be idle for 15 days this month. The Salt Lake break was shorter because travel time was insignificant for most players.
It’s not known how long the break would be in 2014 because the Olympics site has not been chosen.
If the NHL keeps shutting down every fourth February, there may be no future World Cups, hockey’s biggest international event outside of the Olympics.
There have been only two in 10 years, in 1996 and 2004, and having a major tournament every two years outside of the Stanley Cup finals may be too much, Saskin said.
PHT: The Penguins' win in Game 4 shoved the Senators to the brink of elimination, but Ottawa has vowed to bring a better effort tonight (Coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET; Live Extra, NBCSN).
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