The NHL Versus the Olympics
It would seem that
John Tortorella isn't much for the Lightning's presence in the Olympics:
"I don't care what people think about it, whether it's against your country or this, that and the other thing," Tortorella said. "That's not in my mind. My mind is with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That's our job at hand here. If we get a player back early, I'm happy about it.
That was yesterday's St. Pete Times... Today's has Torts continuing his comments putting down the Olympic break:
"I don't agree with the setup here as far as taking players from the National Hockey League season, in the middle of the year, and going over there," Tortorella said. "I don't care if it's once every four years or once every six years or once every 10 years. This is our job. This is our domain and it shouldn't be interrupted."I really side with Tortorella on this.
People have had it in their mind that professional players taking part in the Olympic Games is a must since the 1992 Olympics and the USA Men's Basketball "Dream Team" took to the court. There was hype, there was hope and there was a financial windfall on a world scale for the NBA afterwards.
Yes the difference between The NBA Dream Team, the NHL's participation in the Olympics and even Major League Baseball committing any personnel to games in the past (be they minor league players or coaches) was that the NHL and MLB are in the middle of their seasons when the games take place. THey are paid to be part of the NHL or MLB - not to take part in a tournament during the season.
They hype and the windfall haven't been there for either league, MLB has been dropped from the Olympics and the NHL -- which was already facing the uphill climb of winning back fans after a year long work stoppage -- couldn't have had the Olympics come up at a worse time.
Of course, some saw this as a great opportunity to win back fans and saw this as a must participation... But how is this a must if it further compromises the game both scheduling, injury risk and other factors that don't jump to my mind immediately while writing this)? The NHL's focus needed to be on the NHL this season and not on the global market -- even if the NHLPA bitched and whined for Turin participation.
I'm not anti-Olympics... But I am questioning sending pros to the games. Argue about playing with heart if you want, argue about representing your country... Players on NHL squads are paid to take part in the NHL, not the Olympics. Their focus is on the NHL and that influences performance. Did anyone see Vaclav Prospal deliberately pass on a check of Vinny Lecavalier during the Czech Republic vs. Canada game? That shows you where Prospal's priorities are...