To Olympic or not to Olympic: the future of the NHL in international competition

Bruce Bennett

Sochi injuries ups the heat on the debate about NHLers competing in the Olympics.

During the second period of Canada's final round robin game, John Tavares collided with Latvia's Arturs Kulda. The injury sent him out of the game, and New York Islanders fans waited anxiously for word on how bad it was. Today, they found out.

It's been reported by many sources that Tavares tore his MCL and meniscus of his left knee.The injury will force him to watch his teams, Canada and the NYI, from the press box for the remainder of their contests. With the Islanders still fighting for a playoff spot, the loss of the team's captain and the NHL's third-leading scorer will be devastating for the New York team. Team Canada will also be hit hard as they search for gold here in Sochi. On a team hurting for offense, the scoring prowess of Tavares would certainly come in handy.

The injury begs the question, "How does Islanders owner Charles Wang feel about losing a star player and captain of his team to Olympic competition?" In fact, most hockey fans are wondering how all owners, as well as the NHLPA and NHL brass like Gary Bettman, feel. Allowing NHL players to be Olympians is a hotly argued decision every four years. With additional injuries to players like Mats Zuccarello (hand), Henrik Zetterberg (back), Aleksander Barkov (knee), and Tomas Kopecky (head), it's looking more and more unlikely that we'll see pros representing their countries in 2018.

Some hockey fans are totally fine with leaving the Games to the amateurs, the way it used to be. Generally, these folks would rather see their NHL stars healthy and competing for a Stanley Cup. Others, however, don't want to miss watching their countrymen play in the historic competition that is the Olympics. When asked, players always rank Olympic competition high on the list of their favorite moments as a hockey player, but most of those who have hoisted the Cup put that ahead of winning in the Olympics. Some players will never reach the ultimate NHL dream, so achieving Olympic gold could be the highlight of their careers in the sport.

On which side of this argument do you fall?

Per bonaire's request, I've set up the poll in such a way that we can determine (informally) if there is a pattern to fans' stance on this issue based on nationality. No disrespect intended by lumping European countries and all the other folks together.

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