London 2012 Banner (Michael Pead/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0)
A couple of weeks ago on the Jason Gregor Show, Gregor, Mark Spector and I were discussing the Olympics. Spector mentioned he wasn’t wild about watching the tennis tournament that takes place during the Olympics. He felt that he could watch the players most weekends, it was nothing new.
As I was driving home that day from the show I started thinking about that discussion. I love the Olympics but what made me feel that way? I figured out it was the unknown athletes and their stories that grabbed my attention. I started to realize I agreed with Spec.
Why was I watching the Olympic tennis so closely? For the most part it was the same top players I could watch all the time. Most Olympic athletes are not really discussed outside of Olympic years. We don’t know a lot about them but once we get to know their stories we cheer for them like crazy!
There is a lot of talk about the NHL and NHLPA reaching a new deal for the upcoming season. Many big issues to discuss. Something that may be near the bottom of the list is NHL players participation in the winter Olympics. Fans, media and even the players have said how great the hockey is. This is true. We have all been treated to some incredible displays of skill.
But if NHL players were not part of the Olympics would it be so bad and would it affect our enjoyment of the Ice Hockey tournament?
Hold on, before you all jump down my throat: let me explain. Think about it. What is the most famous hockey team to participate in the Olympics? I guarantee you all thought of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. It was made up of mostly young and unknown players. The U.S rallied around this group and loved them not only for the success they had. They cheered for the entire team and the passion they played with. Not one player stood above the group.
March 3, 1980 Sports Illustrated Cover
Imagine all nations teams and specifically the Canadian Olympic hockey team made up of non-NHL players. AHL, college, university, European and the major junior leagues would be the pool from which a team would be put together. That would be a tough task for the general manager of the club. For the most part everyone would be asking ‘Who are these guys?’
It would be the same for every country. No current NHL players. As fans of hockey we would be treated to a different type of Olympic hockey then we have become accustomed to. No more Sidney Crosby or Eric Staal to cheer for. We would be true fans of the Canadian team as a whole.
A perfect example is this year’s womens’ Olympic soccer team. All of Canada fell in love with this squad. Yes they had a star in Christine Sinclair but outside of her we didn’t know a lot of the players but we loved their heart and their passion to make Canada proud. It was a great run to watch.
Most likely, the new CBA will include a clause that will permit NHL’ers to play in the Olympics. I believe there is a desire from both sides to see that happen but part of me will be disappointed.
Call me maybe…
Does anyone else have the song ‘Call me maybe’ stuck in their heads. The U.S swim team put a video of themselves singing and dancing to it on YouTube. NBC played it quite often during the Olympics. I can’t get it out of my head.
I probably shouldn’t say this but I really like the song. I know, embarrassing.