The 2014 Winter Olympics have been history for just a few weeks, but some Canadian fans are already thinking about the next Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
One of the most pressing matters for Canada will be the National Hockey League’s (NHL) participation in 2018.
“NHL players should be allowed to participate in the Olympics,” University of Lethbridge student Ryan Munn said in an interview, shortly after the flame went out in Sochi.
“It would not only hurt viewer ratings, but it would also dash the hopes and dreams of those who have wanted to play for their respective countries.”
Due to injuries and the risk of hindering their team’s season, NHL owners and general managers have entertained the idea of passing over the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“I’m all for the NHL being in the Olympics in Pyeongchang,” said Detroit Red Wings fan Cody Hotel.
“As long as the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation are willing to cover the insurance premiums, I see no good reason why they shouldn’t keep playing.”
During the Olympic Games in Sochi in February, a total of 11 players returned to their NHL teams unable to play in their first game after the Olympic break.
Players like Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks were expected to only miss a few games.
But Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and John Tavares from the New York Islanders, captains of their respective teams, were injured in the Olympic tournament and were expected to miss the remainder of the regular NHL season.
“It’s kind of a conflicting situation for me,” said Hotel. “I’m happy that the Canadian players got to go and win us a gold medal.
“But as a Red Wings fan, I’m definitely disappointed with Zetterberg’s injury.”
“To be honest I was pretty upset when Tavares got hurt,” said New York Islanders fan Daniel Ronaghan.
“It felt like our season was over then and there, but the more I think about it, the more I want NHL players to go to South Korea in 2018.”
With key players missing a substantial amount of time in the final stretch to the postseason, some teams have voiced their displeasure at sending over their best players, risking their health and missing games during this crucial time in the season.
“This is probably the biggest reason why NHL players shouldn’t be allowed in the Olympics,” said New York Islanders’ general manager, Garth Snow in an interview with New York’s Newsday.
“It could have happened to anyone. It just happened to be us that lost our best player.”
The talent-laden Canadian roster won its second consecutive gold medal in Sochi, giving up only three goals throughout the tournament and winning all six of its games, including one in overtime against Finland.
This marked the first time Canada has won gold outside of North America since NHL players have started participating in the Olympics in 1998.
Canada won gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah and in 2010 in Vancouver.
“It was great to see Canada win gold again, they may have been the best team ever assembled for the Olympics,” said Ronaghan.
“Even though Tavares didn’t play the entire tournament, when he did play, he was awesome with whoever was on his line.”
The men’s ice hockey team added to Canada’s total of 10 gold medals alongside the women’s ice hockey team, the two curling teams, Alexandre Bilodeau, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Charles Hamelin, Dara Howell, Marielle Thompson and the two women bobsleigh team, Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse.
Bilodeau (men’s moguls) and Humphries and Moyse (two women bobsleigh) became the first athletes to win gold in back to back Olympic Games.
“It’s always impressive to be a repeat Olympic champion. I feel his first gold in Vancouver was more monumental though, being the first gold won by a Canadian in Canada,” said Munn.
For a complete list of injuries in the NHL, click here.