Why Olympic Hockey Will be Awesome This Year
by Jay Davidson
Crosby. McDavid. Tavares. Stamkos. Bergeron. Subban. Burns… oh, what could have been. The best players in the world at the best tournament in the world could have meant hockey like we have never seen before. Calibre that we could (and now will have to) only dream of, and sure as hell worth waking up at 4am on the West Coast to take in. But Gary Bettman is Gary Bettman, and he is doing his job (mighty well, in fact, but that is another article for another day). Which means the 2018 Olympic Men’s Hockey Tournament will be a little less than what we’ve been dreaming of since we last saw the best of the best face off in 2014. But don’t fret, my hockey friends! Not all is lost.
The haters have said it loud and clear:
“Who are these scrubs!?”
“This is going to suck!”
“I definitely won’t be tuning in.”
But don’t listen to the haters. They are idiots, and they will be tuning in. This competition is going to be incredible. And here’s why: First thing’s first: these are all still incredible hockey players. These teams are much, much better than the World Junior teams that we all tune in for, while consistently shattering ratings records (more than any NHL games). And just like those young prospects, these players representing their country will be fighting not only for the flag on the front, but potentially an NHL job when all is said and done (hey, it worked for Mats Zuccarello). And we’re guessing you’d never heard of him before the 2010 Olympics).
This will also likely be the biggest thing these “nobodies” ever play for. In their whole lives. Imagine your lifelong dream of making the NHL gets cut a little short, you end up playing in some random country in Europe, and now you’re offered one more (last) shot at representing your country. As the whole world watches, you have 4-6 games to show everyone what you’ve got. That would probably get your jimmies going a little, wouldn’t it? Now, I’m not saying the NHL greats would stroll into South Korea and not try. But this event is not the biggest thing they’ll ever play for. It isn’t even the biggest thing they’ll play for in the next couple of months. After these six games, it’s back to the grind of 3-point games, trade deadlines, and playoffs (Except for you, Connor McDavid, sorry bud). All the stories of Duncan Keith blocking shots with his face, and Patrice Bergeron playing the Stanley Cup Finals through a punctured lung and separated shoulder belong in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can’t tell me Bergeron is playing the semi-final game against Finland with a punctured lung when his team back home is riding a 57 game (?) unbeaten streak.
That said, yes these games are projected to be a little more physical than the prior All Star Game-like tournaments. The IIHF still does not allow fighting, so don’t expect that. But I think there could be more checks finished, and more scrums in the corners, maybe some face-first shot blocks. I mean it is still Mason Raymond and a bunch of KHLers going into those corners, but you never know!
And last of all, maybe most importantly, and one thing Canadians and Americans can agree on: who doesn’t love an underdog? This could be the only time we ever get to see our teams in such a position, pitted against that evil Russian Red Empire. It gets a little boring at the top (at least us Canadians can say that, winning three of the last four Olympic golds, with a couple Hockey World Cups mixed in the middle). I can barely remember a time when the Canadians weren’t the favourite of an international tournament.
So, I relish this opportunity and so should you. Stop being Mr. Tough Guy, talking shit online about how you’re too good for this tournament, and Gary Bettman is the worst, and you’re not going to watch because it’s going to suck. We all know you’re going to be waking up at 5am just like the rest of us hockey fans and snuggling onto your couch with a blanket to watch the first period of your team, half-asleep, until the coffee finally kicks in (or if you’re a real fan – the beer). It’s okay, your secret is safe with us.
Do you think Olympic hockey will be awesome this year? Let us know in the comments