Give Me A Strike To The Head

TSN.ca ran an article titled: “NHL GM’s recommend that head shots be penalized”

No shit eh?

It took 30 GMs 3 days in Florida to draw the logical conclusion that by making the game of hockey faster, you increase the intensity of the open ice body checks and when someone gets hit in the head at those speeds it takes a guy a lot smaller than Scott Stevens to knock you the fuck out.

A few years too late in my opinion, but congrats all around on making progress. In the meantime I hope Marc Savard makes a strong recovery and puts this injury riddled season behind him. The Bruins on the other hand; you guys are in a bit of a situation. Good luck with that.

But this isn’t about the hits to the head. It’s about International hockey.

See what I did there? Roped you in and changed the subject.

The next Winter Olympics are Russian. If you didn’t know, they’ll be held in Sochi in 2014. I only bring this up because of the possible connection between the KHL, NHL and International Hockey. See, the thing is, Gary Bettman seems to be adamant that the NHL and NHLPA should withdraw its players from Olympic hockey. His case is remarkably rock solid, “it interrupts our season” “it’s hard for the NHL to regain momentum after a two week break” “if any of our players get injured it’ll be devastating to their NHL club” “in Sochi we will run unto numerous travel and fatigue issues” and a few others I’m unable to recall at the moment.

For once Gary makes a strong argument, but he seems to be overlooking a few important items. For instance, if the NHL withdraws, there are a host of NHL superstars who have already said that they’d void their NHL contract to play for their country in the Olympics. Can’t fault someone for being patriotic, really, if I were in their shoes and already had a couple million dollars under my belt, I’d do the same thing. In a heartbeat. Contract be dammed, there will always be a league that will sign me.

More importantly though, the KHL will be there. The KHL will be there in spades and you can be assured that Alexander Medvedev is going to fully utilize the opportunity to showcase the talent of his league. Of which, can you name five Canadians playing in the KHL? (Just working under the theory that a Canadian Olympic Ice Hockey team might not include NHLers.) I can only name four; Geoff Platt, Chris Simon, Jeff Glass and Kevin Dallman. And I only know those because of my time playing in numerous Fantasy Hockey leagues over the past decade. Russians on the other hand? How many good former NHLers can you think of that play in the KHL? Alexei Yashin, Alexei Zhitnik, Alexei Semenov, Sergei Brylin, Sergei Zubov, Andrei Zyuzin, Nikolai Zherdev, Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Radulov. . .

I can hear the debate now, “those players aren’t nearly as good as Crosby and Heatley” but the point is, if the Crosby’s and Heatley’s can’t go, the KHL is a very good resource for every other country to stock their Olympic team with.

This shouldn’t be about us verses them, but if you want to showcase North American hockey skill – I’m tossing the US into this mix, because they have even less to work with – the NHL needs to be represented. Otherwise while the rest of Europe is watching Canada lose to Latvia and the US to Kazakhstan, the NHL is going to look very bad and a bit selfish.

As for the issue of travel and fatigue. The NHL has been trying to gain a “foothold” in the European market for years now. Why else would we send our teams to start their seasons in Helsinki, Stockholm, Prague and London for the past three years if rest and fatigue were major issues?

I guess we’ll find out how dedicated to the NHL’s international survivability Mr. Bettman is when the current NHLPA CBA expires and it comes time to negotiate the Olympic participation portion of the new contract.

~J

Advice Content: Accept that you’re over a barrel here Mr. Bettman and embrace the tournament as a showcase of international hockey talent that’s been developed in the NHL. Or risk upsetting a lot of players. Just imagine what The Capitals would look like without Alexander Ovechkin, Semyon Varlamov and Alexander Semin, then picture the team’s average attendance diving.

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