I still remember sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings and watching Sidney Crosby score the winning goal in overtime as Canada edged out the USA in overtime at the Vancouver Olympics. Now, as the CBA is being finalized, there comes concern that the NHL may be redefining eligibility for players under contract with the NHL and there involvement in international ice hockey. As the season is yet to begin, and when it does it will be significantly reduced, to think that they may be considering the loss of revenue that occurs during the Olympics is purely idiotic. It's those international Olympic events that create the interest of those that may otherwise not be interested.
As many professional athletes will attest, playing for ones country in an Olympic event trumps any accolades attained from regular season triumphs. However, the NHL is concerned with their superstars creating a span of time which shuts down the NHL until the Olympics has been completed. Combined with the fact that it could create an injury which then leaves a star out of his NHL jersey and off the ice for the remainder of their season, does not sit well with Gary Bettman and the owners. You can't deny that the aforementioned is possible, and this same point has been brought up by other major sports, particularly the most recent USA basketball team. It also cannot be denied that the overtime win by Canada, in Vancouver, over the USA was one of the most memorable sporting events ever produced by the winter Olympics (the game winning puck that Sidney Crosby scored with now resides in the HHOF in Toronto, Canada), perhaps dating back to the 'Miracle on Ice'. These events inspire our young to achieve greatness, and elevate the competitive nature of all athletes worldwide.
The biggest mistake with the most recent events of the NHL and its lockout would be to prevent its biggest stars from competing on the biggest stage in the world of ice hockey. When the world is watching, the NHL gains followers, gains viewers, and gains attention. Without that break from the NHL to watch the best of the best duke it out in a different city, in a different home country, you deny people the opportunity to see for themselves the height of ability and competitiveness, over paychecks and bonuses. Its a beautiful thing to watch the Stars beat the Red Wings, but it would be magnificent to see Radek Faksa and Jaromir Jagr suit up for the Czech Republic and face off against Russians, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, in Sochi, Russia.
The NHL needs to win back fans of the sport, preventing players from competing at the Olympics is not the way to achieve that. It is a point of local pride to cheer on your team. However it is pride of country that we cheer on our nation when pitted against other great nations. Let them play.