The NHL has announced that it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, causing many players to publicly voice their displeasure with this decision.
“For the players, it seems like they enjoy that event and want to be part of it,” former Olympian and four-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Roy said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I haven’t really followed it enough to tell you why hockey and the NHL are going in that direction, but I certainly understand how the players’ (feel) about it. It’s a great event. It’s fun to be part of it.”
The 2018 Olympics are slated to take place next February 9-25, which is right in the middle of the NHL season. Brandon Tierney, though, wondered if interrupting the regular season would be worth the opportunity to grow the game – and the NHL – worldwide.
“I understand the visibility you want to have for the hockey game, going to the Olympics – it helps the game to grow,” Roy said. “But at the same time, people come in night after night supporting you, your team, and you as a player. This is also extremely important. I think the players have been dealing really well with it and being very professional about it. Yes, if you go there, you want to win. But at the same time, coming back, you really want to win that Stanley Cup. That’s what you’re playing for, and every day, your focus is there. That’s what I wanted when I was a kid. When I was growing up, I was dreaming of winning a Stanley Cup, and fortunately for me, it happened four times.”
Alex Ovechkin had said he planned on playing for Russia in the 2018 Olympics regardless of whether the NHL would participate. It’ll be interesting to see if Ovechkin keeps his word – and if other players decide to follow his lead.
Might the NHL punish players who do that?
“I hope not,” Roy said, “but at the same time, I’m sure (the NHL is) going to come up with reasons (for not participating) and maybe everybody is going to have a better understanding.”
Roy, 51, was also asked about the idea of resting players. That is happening in the NBA, and it seems that NHL stars could benefit from extra rest as well, especially given the physical nature of the sport.
Roy, who played in 61-65 games in each of his seven seasons with the Avalanche, does not think that is necessary.
“I always enjoyed playing,” he said. “Taking some time off during the course of the season is not something that I really needed. Obviously being a goaltender, I didn’t play every game. I was playing an average of about 60 games a year. But it’s something that never really went through my mind. I always enjoyed being on the ice. Even when I was not playing, I was not too crazy (about) sitting on the bench. I spoke to Marty Brodeur many times about that. He was playing probably 10 or 12 more games than I was, and he was just like me. We’re competitors, we want to be on the ice, we want to play. Days off is something I wasn’t too crazy (about). When it’s over, it’s over. When it’s over, you want to be involved.”