Four Corners: Is stopping the NHL season for the Olympics a good or bad idea?

February 15, 2010

There are pros to idea
Ron Fritz

Baltimore Sun

I used to be totally against this because I thought the Olympics should be for amateurs. But who are we kidding? Many of the Olympic "amateurs" make more in a year than you and I will make in our lifetimes. So now I'm all for NHL players, and for that matter, NBA players, representing their countries in the Olympics.

I want to see the best players from each country playing against the best. And in the case of the NHL, whose season goes on in almost anonymity, any exposure gained by having your elite athletes playing on center stage in the Olympics can only help more people find the sport.

Let's hope no players get hurt seriously over the next two weeks, and when they return to their NHL teams they will join rested teammates looking to have a big second half. Maybe someone will actually notice the NHL after the Olympics.

rfritz2@tribune.com

International sensation
Steve Gorten

Sun Sentinel

It's absolutely a good idea. Sure, it creates an annoyingly condensed regular season schedule, when teams play practically every other day. But the benefits are worth it.

The league is trying to promote itself worldwide - it's starting regular seasons in Europe and the Islanders will train in China - and the Winter Olympics provide the best stage. Fans want to watch big names in major competitions. Lindsey Vonn and Apolo Anton Ohno are celebrities every four years, then forgotten about for another four. They can't top Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin with a medal on the line.

Plus, NHL players want to play - there's an overwhelming sense of national pride. That's especially true for Europeans, most of whom dreamed of representing their country long before they aspired to play in the NHL.

sgorten@tribune.com

Players clearly want it
Helene Elliott

Los Angeles Times

NHL owners hate interrupting the season to let players represent their homelands in the Olympics, so these Games could be the last for NHL players. Owners see only the bottom line and don't value the goodwill created.

Ask Teemu Selanne of the Ducks why he insisted on returning barely two weeks after breaking his jaw or Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf how devastated he was when he sprained his left ankle on Monday or the Devils' Paul Martin how disappointed he was when a badly broken arm forced him to give up his spot.

Having NHL players in the Olympics promotes the game, so the league has done something right in that regard. But even when the NHL is right it does something wrong: shouldn't it have been able to persuade NBC to air the U.S.-Canada men's game Sunday instead of putting it on MSNBC?

helliott2@tribune.com

Seeing is believing
Chris Kuc

Chicago Tribune

Before I saw athletes gather from around the world in Vancouver for the Winter Games, I thought shutting down the NHL while its star players participated in an exhibition was a bad idea. The possibility of injuries and the danger of losing momentum with the teams and fans seemed too great a risk for a sport already battling for relevance.

But unlike the NHL, the Olympics are a global event and once I dropped the idea that North America was the center of the universe, it became clear the best athletes from each sport should participate.

The NHL will recover from shutting down for a couple of weeks and it might even take advantage of the worldwide exposure and acquire some new fans who will see the game the way it's supposed to be played: with skill and a passion only playing for your country can bring out.

ckuc@tribune.com


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