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Wednesday FTB: The Olympics Question

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It’s basically already 2022 so let’s talk about it

Olympics: Ice Hockey-Men Team Bronze medal match - CZE-CAN David E. Klutho-USA TODAY Sports

Both Auston Matthews and Darnell Nurse talked about the Olympics this week, giving me a permission, and a nice two-year lede time, to start complaining about this again!

“I think everyone would (want to),” said Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews, when asked about playing in the Olympics. “I’ve been lucky enough to play for the U.S. in different tournaments, World Championships, World Juniors. A lot of guys take a lot of pride in playing for their country and the Olympics is the top of the top as far as that goes. It would be a pretty amazing experience to be able to put on the U.S. jersey and play in that tournament.”
Oilers and Leafs stars would love a shot at Olympics | Montreal Gazette

I think there’s some solid arguments to make for the NHL taking a pass on the Olympics – from the league’s perspective, money, and the potential for injuries to their star players are always a concern. There’s also the fact that by not allowing NHL players to join their respective national teams for the Olympics, you’re opening up the stage for other players to represent their country in the largest international sporting competition, which is an amazing thing for any player, whatever level they play at, to achieve. It’s the type of set-up that lends itself to inspiring narratives and the joy of the underdog. And no matter what, it is still really good hockey.

However. However.

I was introduced to hockey through the Olympics, my entire dorm shoved into the tiny basement rec room to scream our way through Sidney Crosby’s golden goal. I didn’t know who he was before that Olympics – or anyone else on team Canada – and a decade later that is still my favourite hockey memory, tied closely with watching the women take gold a few days earlier.

The Olympics are an exercise in overwrought nationalism sure, but they’re also a huge international event that draws the attention of millions of viewers, and gets people to watch sports that they’ve never even heard of before, much less watched. They are, in short, an almost unparalleled opportunity to grow the game of hockey around the world.

No matter which players turn up to the tournament, professional or amateur, you’re still going to have people watching, discovering, and loving hockey. Like I said above, no matter who’s playing it, it’s still really good hockey. And you’re still going to get people starting to watch the NHL because of it. But the thing that is lost in not having NHL players go, aside from the fact that most of those players would love to get the opportunity to represent their country at the Olympics, is the direct link back to the NHL. You lose the chance for people, having fallen in love with a player over the course of the Olympics, to follow that link back to the NHL team whose crest that player wears the rest of the time. You lose the chance for that link to help that person to find a team that they want to root for more than once every four years. That’s a loss for the NHL.

ICYMI

I know every single one of you has been just as excited for the return of Annie’s fashion recap as I am, and this month’s catches us up on a whole lot of fashion victories and fashion faux pas from the tail end of 2019:

If you haven’t had the chance to check in on the Marlies this weekend, I’m very sorry to have to be the one to tell you that it was... not good:

And finally, if you think Rasmus Sandin should be playing on the Leafs when he gets back, ELC be damned, we sure have the article for you! And hey, if you don’t, give yourself the chance to be swayed:

Elsewhere

The Hockey Writers make their own pitch for why Sandin should be playing for the Leafs:

Leafs prospect Joseph Duszak will be representing the Newfoundland Growlers at the ECHL all-star game:

That... did not take long. The Nashville Predators have a new head coach:

The Ice Garden has put together an all-decade Team Canada roster. Not to give to much away, but Poulin (gasp) made the cut:

And the Leafs have finally posted the second half of the Leaf-to-Leaf they released in December:

Here’s the first one as well, in case you missed it:

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Poll

What say you?

This poll is closed

  • 73%
    Yes to NHL players in the Olympics!
    (138 votes)
  • 8%
    No to NHL players in the Olympics!
    (16 votes)
  • 5%
    This is a much more nuanced conversation than these two options!
    (11 votes)
  • 12%
    Whatever I just wanna watch good hockey!
    (23 votes)
188 votes total Vote Now