NHL

Your! Call: Should NHL stop sending players to Olympics?

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
2/20/2014 6:56:34 PM
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With John Tavares' second period knee injury against the Latvians Wednesday, he wasn't just lost for the rest of the Olympics, but also the rest of the NHL season.

The blow for the New York Islanders was softened a little by the fact their season is already all but over, sitting 12 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 22-30-8 record. But imagine if the Islanders were in playoff contention, losing one of the best players in the league.

Islanders' general manager Garth Snow was none too happy about losing his superstar centre at an international competition.

Speaking to Newsday on Thursday, Snow chastised the IIHF and IOC for wanting all the benefits of NHLers for nothing in return and even suggesting the organizations reimburse Islanders' season ticket holders.

Tavares' injury, and Snow's subsequent reaction – a sentiment likely shared by GMs around the NHL – may be enough for the league to halt their participation in the Olympics.

In light of this and other injuries suffered in Sochi, is it time for the NHL to stop sending their players to the Winter Olympics?

The 23-year-old Canadian's season isn't the only casualty of the Winter Games, as the Florida Panthers have lost promising rookie Alexander Barkov to a knee injury playing for Finland, and veteran forward Thomas Kopecky to a concussion playing for Slovakia.

And while Pavel Datsyuk played in every Russian game at the Olympics, an argument could be made that were it not for the Olympics in his home country, the 35-year-old would be resting his troublesome knee ahead of the Detroit Red Wings playoff push.

The solution could come in the reincarnation of the World Cup of Hockey, to be played in late summer before the NHL season begins. While injuries would be as unavoidable then as they are now in the Olympics, players would be coming in fresher and would have more time to heal before training camps open in the fall.

There's nothing quite as momentous as playing for your country in the Olympics, as Steven Stamkos showed doing everything he could to get healthy in time for this year's tournament, but a World Cup could be a compromise that keeps every party involved relatively happy.

And for hockey nuts worried about the void if the NHL pulls out of the Olympics, ideas such as making the World Juniors, an increasingly popular tournament around the world, an Olympic event every fourth year may be enough to appease them.

Should the NHL stop sending their players to the Winter Olympics?

You've heard what we've had to say, now it's your turn.

As always, it's Your! Call.

John Tavares (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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