Of course, the players themselves don't quite see it that way.
"Our guys love the experience," said NHL Players' Association boss Paul Kelly. "Across the board, mention the Olympics and they get excited, and that's no matter what country they're from. They want to be there, and they want to keep going."
Meanwhile, the NHL's 30 team owners have mixed feelings. Jeremy Jacobs, long-time owner of the Bruins and these days the NHL's Chairman of the Board of Governors, doesn't believe it makes sense to put the league in mothballs for 8-10 days every four years. Proponents of having the Games include NHL players have long said that it presents a unique marketing opportunity for the league, a prime chance to grow its worldwide fan base, build the brand, potentially boost TV ratings, especially in the U.S.
"It hasn't worked out," said Jacobs, adding that, "I'm not going for it," when league bosses determine whether to participate in the Games post-2010.
The two sides, no doubt, will hash it over for at least the next two-three years, as part of the ongoing reworking and negotiation of the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current work document, which the players agreed in January not to terminate at the end of this year, is set to expire following the 2010-11 season. The players retain an option to extend the deal through 2011-12. Given the players' avid interest in participating, it's a good bet they won't surrender the privilege of playing for their respective countries.
As for what to expect from the Canadian and U.S. squads in 2010, here is a best guess at how the two teams will look. Among the forwards, keep in mind that a few might be out of their natural positions, but that is often the case in Olympic play, with so much high-end talent in the pool of available players. Olympic rosters are limited to 20, but each country is allowed to carry a three-man taxi squad in case of injury.
Let the second-guessing begin. Some tough choices to make for both rosters, although the Canadians still have the richest, most talented stock. When the puck is dropped in Vancouver, it will be 30 years after America's gold medal in Lake Placid, the Miracle on Ice that saw the ragamuffin Yanks rub out an elite Russian squad and go on to win the gold medal.
Three decades later, Team USA boasts some elite talent, but not nearly as much as the Canadians, Czechs, Swedes or Russians. The Yanks could still win the gold — 1980 remains every underdog's touchstone — but the final game more likely will have Canada against a European squad.
And the winner?
Uh-uh, not this early, not with 12 months to go and another Stanley Cup to be decided in the meantime.
Q: Have we seen the last of Peter Forsberg in the NHL? If so, did he play long enough to secure a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
— Jerry from Sarnia, Ontario
A: Reports out of Europe are that Foppa won't return to the NHL this season. Excuse me if I sound skeptical, but let's take that for what it is — as of the moment, he doesn't plan to return.
Provided the ex-Avs star sticks to that decision, 2008-09 will come to end and he will have played in only 126 NHL regular-season games since the end of the 2004-05 lockout. Because he will turn 36 years old over the summer, his chances of an NHL return are remote.
Hall of Fame? No question, as far as I'm concerned. He won a pair of Cups in Colorado ('96, 2001) and averaged nearly 100 points across four seasons at the end of the '90s, then led the league with a 106-point season in 2002-'03. And stats aside, he was a strong, fierce competitor, for a solid decade before he body began to burn up in the NHL's blazing hot atmosphere. Add up the numbers and mix in his intensity, and he is absolutely HHOF material.
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