Not to be a jerk about the Olympics, but what exactly is the NHL thinking?
The Penguins are obviously already gassed from their successful Stanley Cup run. They beat Atlanta last night, but had dropped their previous five. And now, instead of just focusing on making it to the All-Star break, they’re going to send key players to Vancouver?
Sidney Crosby and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will represent Canada. Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar will represent Russia. Brooks Orpik will represent the U.S.
Basically, if you asked someone to pick five Penguins you’d want resting and not playing in a tournament in the middle of a season, it would probably be those five guys.
I know players love the chance to represent their country and I know the Olympics is good exposure for the NHL but it seems ridiculous that teams like the Penguins not only play deep into the post-season but then are expected to stock in-season Olympic teams, too.
Detroit, who also played deep into the post-season, is sending seven key players to Vancouver.
Most fans want to see teams as healthy as possible. No one wants to see Pittsburgh or Detroit make an early playoff exit because guys are too tired from a grueling two-year cycle of playing.
Sadly, I don’t have a solution, outlandish or otherwise. If you give Olympic players a week or so off after the games, you’ll have non-Olympians who haven’t played in a month or so. I would suggest coaches rest their Olympians whenever possible, but that’s not always feasible during a season — especially for a team that’s struggling.
The moral of all of this? Don’t make a Stanley Cup run the season before the Olympics.