Four years ago the Canadian and American Men’s hockey teams competed in a legendary gold medal game in Vancouver at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada ended up winning the gold medal on an overtime goal from their captain Sidney Crosby.
The game signified that hockey was still a big sport in the United States and that there is still a lot of interest and support of it. Granted, most of that support is in the North and the Mid-west as opposed to here in the South.
But nonetheless, the whole country watched as the Americans fought so hard and almost defeated the Canadians on their home soil.
This year America did not place. In fact they lost to Finland 5-0 in the third place game that could have gotten us a bronze medal.
Many doubted the American team to ever get a medal in the first place, but they will be coming back home disappointed that they didn’t do better.
I suppose the biggest highlight for the American team would be the intense shootout victory that we had over the Russian team earlier in the group stage.
It was great to see our squad defeat the Russians on their home soil — not an easy thing to do at all. But still there is a big push from the NHL to prevent its players from playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Why you might ask? In some ways it makes total sense. These teams pay lots of money for these players and run the risk of losing their players to serious injuries while they play in the Olympics, which has happened plenty of times before and even a few times this year.
But on the other hand it really makes sense to let the players play for their national team because of the publicity that hockey gets, there is the potential that the NHL could pick up many new fans after watching the Olympics. Plus, it’s the freaking Olympics.
We don’t recognize it here in the South, but the NHL is by no means struggling to keep the league going. Most NHL teams have huge fan bases and sell out nearly every game. Fans have been spending so much money on NHL tickets, gear and other merchandise.
And with every passing Olympics the NHL gets exposure for its sport — and a lot of its players — that could possibly bring in more fans from cities and states that don’t typically care for hockey like, oh, let’s say Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi. I know, hard to believe, but hey, it could happen.
And I also understand the impact of taking a break in the middle of the season every four years for the Olympics and how that can really throw off a team’s season. But soccer has to deal with the same thing (on multiple occasions a season at that) and they do it because at the end of the day it makes the sport so much greater.
Any time the sport goes international between different countries it really draws in a whole new dynamic. Of course the Canadians want to wash the floor with the Americans and the Russians.
I really hope the NHL let’s its players compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics as well. It would truly be heartbreaking to see anything different.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.