Those who remember the hockey tournaments in the Olympics before 1998 know that they were what they were, not the best hockey but far from the worst.
At least, it was something you could watch without wanting to shut the TV down, especially when the top-tiers played against each other.
Many upcoming superstars we could see as well in some of the teams, like Peter Forsberg, Saku Koivu, Paul Kariya, yes, even Jaromir Jagr.
When the NHL decided to let all the players go to the Olympics from 1998, the game changed totally, for the better of course.
The previews and the talk among fans before the tournament also increased, with all the comparisons between the teams, rankings etc.
Soon enough, no one could think anything other than the obvious, that the best players always should be in the tournament, and the best players (not always but mostly) are the NHLers.
But here we are, with another reality again, when the NHL for the first time since 1998 won’t let any of their players, no matter to which nation they belong, participate in the Olympics because of the economics.
>>> As if the NHL organizations would suddenly lack money….
The sticking point was the question of the insurance of the players, and the resulting arguments that they could get hurt and it would cost too much.
>>> That’s an “oh wait…” moment as if the NHL players wouldn’t get hurt at all in the league…? No?
Well, the NHL decided to be a big ridiculous child in a sandbox and moaned that they won’t contribute and will continue with the league season instead.
Another thing and much more worrisome matter has turned up though, as a dark cloud in the sports sky.
Too many Russian winter sports athletes, particularly in the cross-country skiing, have been exposed for massive doping for many years and some of the athletes have been therefore forced to give back some of the medals or be removed from the result lists.
All this means that Russia as a nation can be excluded from the Games in Pyeongchang in South Korea, which also might mean that the KHL won’t send any player to the Olympics.
It was bad enough actually that the NHL turned down the Games, but if the KHL declines, it goes from bad to worse.
The Olympic Games drops dead if the KHL withdraws, that is quite clear.
Some further thoughts about the doping:
Doping has been a major problem in the sports, unfortunately. But I am not sure if it is the best to punish an entire country for what some athletes have done.
On the other hand, the doping issue in Russia is not a new thing at all, and it has been more or less as it was during the Soviet era in recent years.
I don’t know, it’s a hard question how to deal with the issue, but it has to be stopped at some point I am sure.
Perhaps it is best to cancel any kind of tournament, winter or summer games, for some years, if it is so hard to just build up the physique and practice well without pills and injections?
In a bigger view, we all can only blame ourselves for this, because it is our common uncontrollable instinct to do anything to win and at whatever cost, because there is after all way too much fame and money at stake.
So, in order to deal with the matter, we have to begin with the roots of the problem and they are long because it stretches to our common mind about competing.
Many have forgotten these words, many also choose to ignore them, but these words below were once upon a time the essential of the Olympic Games and when we see these major problems that we have with the doping, these words are most welcome back to the Olympic stage:
The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.
Pierre De Coubertin, leader 1863 – 1937
Pierre De Coubertin’s words are inspired by a speech given by the Bishop Ethelbert Talbot.
If you want to know more about Pierre De Coubertin, you may read the curiosa here, click on the link.