NHL Olympic Canadian Corner – February 20, 2014.

Canada survives a scare against Latvia, plus updates on seven Canadian NHL teams as they return to practice.

Shea Weber celebrates his game winning goal over Latvia.

Shea Weber celebrates his game winning goal over Latvia.

NHL.COM: A third period goal by Shea Weber lifted Canada to a 2-1 victory over Latvia and a trip to the semifinal against Team USA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again the Canadians dominated their opponents everywhere but on the scoreboard. They’ll need to do better against the Americans or they can forget about repeating as Olympic champions.

SPORTSNET: Matt Duchene will replace John Tavares, who is out of the tournament with a knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tavares’ injury not only hurts Team Canada but also his NHL team, the NY Islanders. He’s their best player and losing him could make their final few weeks of the schedule a miserable experience.

VANCOUVER PROVINCE: With a week to go until the NHL returns to action, the Canucks are still battered by injuries and face questions about their scoring.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canucks cannot get healthy and/or bolster their scoring, they could miss the playoffs.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jordan Eberle feels like he’s starting a new season as he returns to practice after enjoying ten days off.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, faces an uncertain future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe the Senators will shop Phillips before the trade deadline as they’re close to playoff contention and need his experience and leadership. As for his future beyond this season, I think they’ll re-sign him to an affordable short-term deal, no more than two years.

TORONTO STAR: Dave Bolland (ankle tendon surgery) is practicing with his Maple Leafs teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He could be ready to return when the Leafs return to action following the Olympic break.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets coach Paul Maurice plans a smooth return to action for his players following their ten-day Olympic break.

CALGARY HERALD: Former Flames draft pick Brent Krahn filled in between the pipes during Flames practice.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens 2009 first round pick Louis Leblanc still working on his game with their farm team in Hamilton.


  1. Chalk up yet another injury. Taveres gone for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Time for the Fire sale for the Islanders. This is the dumbest idea the NHL has maybe ever had aside from locking players out twice a decade. Lending professional athletes, millions of dollars in assets and risking millions of dollars in revenues for their perspective teams to “grow the game” by showing ,maybe 3-4 decent hockey games over a 2 week period in the middle of the season is ludicrous. The countries paying attention to Ice Hockey at the winter games are hockey fans with teams and leagues of their own.
    Bring back the world cup play it in late August early September if someone gets hurt its not in the stretch drive to the playoffs and your team can recover a little more easily. Stop this madness.

    • Shtick – I don’t mind the NHLers playing in the Olympics, but the thing is when the Olympics are in Europe – its difficult to watch the games because they are played while most North Americans are asleep.

      On the other hand, how is the NHL going to say no when a player is determined to represent their country in the Olympics. I just think the IOC would have to work out an agreement with the NHL whereby NHL players would not be welcome, then it makes me wonder if we would see the Euros play over in different leagues during an Olympic Year.

      • Its ridiculous if a player wanted to go that badly let them and dont pay them for breech of contract, and let the courts decide what to do with someone under contract walking out on their employer. There are only a few european players who would do it anyway. If the NHL said they were not going to the olympics how many guys do you really think would sacrifice their paycheques for a hockey tournament that happens 1 in 4 years? You think the NHLPA would have a problem splitting the revenue from a world cup equally between the NHL and the IIHF with out involving the IOC? I think the majority of players would be alright with it, and if Im an owner I like that idea a whole lot better than lending my players to a tournament and have tjem come back broken just in time to cost me a shot at playoff revenue now that Ive paid 3/4s of their salary.

        • Didnt mean to sound snarky to ya Steve apologize if it came that way. I just feel the olympics with nhl players is a dumb idea. Besides baseball which other league in team major sports shuts down a season for the Olympics?

    • I agree with you guys that it would be better to not be risking player injuries this late in the season. But it’s not like the date of the Olympics is going to change, ditto for the non-primetime hours for North Americans watching the event when it’s overseas.

      So then it it comes down to Olympic participation or a World Cup of Hockey. Yes, Olympic hockey isn’t as polished as it could be with the amount of time the teams get to mesh, but I anticipate that the World Cup of Hockey in August is going to look more like the preseason anyway. I can’t see the casual or prospective fan having nearly as much interest as what we’re seeing around us with the Olympics right now. Let it continue!

      And Tavares’s knee injury could have happened the first game back…it doesn’t matter where it happened, just that he’s out for a while. With the right scheduling and some reduced league greed the Olympic tournament doesn’t have to be any more rigorous than the schedule the players would have been playing anyway.

      • More games = higher risk of injury. He also could fall down a flight of stairs at home. Im sure that playing extra games raises the chance of injury and again if Im his employer Id rather he blows his knee out playing meaningful games that Im paying for, than blowing his knee out playing Latvia during what amounts to a vacation for the rest of the team.

        • Soccer is played at the U21 level at the Olympics. I can see hockey moving in this direction. It’s a good compromise because fans get to watch future stars and the level of play is excellent.
          As a Leaf fan, I hope for two things at these Games – I hope Canada wins and I hope none of the Leafs get hurt. Not a great situation.

          • I think your U21 idea is one of the better compromises for ensuring a level playing field BCLeafsFan. I’m guessing it’d get viewership above the World Juniors but below what they presently get. I’d still WAY rather see best on best, but could live with that.

          • Soccer is also played at the summer olympics not during the regular season in UEFA or leading up to a championship. European football season generally starts in September to May close to the NHL. Same as basketball NBA runs the same kind of sched as the nhl but is played in the summer olympics.

        • Hence my suggestion about the right scheduling and reduced league greed. Take a financial hit every four years and play less league games. Offset them with the same amount of Olympic games. Players might get hurt in league games, Olympic games, or falling down the stairs…either way, the chance for injury remains similar.

          • Greed? They pay millions of dollars to players and to buy a team. Its not greed its an investment, many teams dont make a whole lot of money, tell Melnyk or the Coyotes owners that they are going to make even less money on ticket sales, the NHL is a business not a charity for the good of hockey. Its a 2 week break or 5-7 games that revenue is alot of money to struggling franchises that would have to give that up. Who wants a business that loses at least 10% of its revenue every 4 years when they struggle to make profit at the best of times its not just 6-7 teams (that prop up the league) sending guys to the olympics, teams like Cbus Fla Ottawa Phx StLouis Nashville all would take a beating doing that.

  2. It’d be nice to see some informed figures on what the exposure brings for the game, otherwise it’s always this same back and forth about short term losses and long term gains. Maybe averaging this 10% out over 4 years is worth it for what they gain, maybe it isn’t. I agree with you Shticky that the owners, especially those ones in less profitable markets, shouldn’t be on the hook for all of it. I think it would be a nice good will gesture for the players to agree to eat part of the loss during an Olympic year (or average it out over four). Players give back in all sorts of ways and some sort of an arrangement between the PA and the league to participate in the Olympics would go a long way for improving their post-lockout image.

  3. olympics is about each country representing their country the best possible way. if we dont send our best for hockey then, imo, we as canadians arent representing our country like we should. besides, the nhl season is to long anyway.

    • I guess as a casual fan ya you could say that but unless players want to get paid less (sure they want to go to the olympics but did ya hear any word of them saying “if we go dont bother paying us, we do it for the love of our country”?) It doesn’t make sense Myself I kinda like 84 games with lots of playoffs I follow hockey even in the summer. If I was an owner of some teams Id say its not long enough I still make no profit and I paid hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the team and still have to pay my employees. Now my best player is hurt, I paid him, and I now have zero chance of making the playoffs where I could potentially make some of my money back.
      Final thing the Olympics is to showcase amature sport the best in the world thing and to grow the game is garbage the IOC and others cronies have made up to sell tickets. Before Nagano there was no pro athletes and if you watch any kind of jr or college hockey its just as competitive the world jrs is probably some of the best hockey you will ever see.
      Absolutely bougus “we should send the best it makes it more exciting…” its the same damn 8 teams that have any chance of winning.

  4. Just because a dedicated demographic watch the world juniors and they’re competitive doesn’t mean it’ll have the same broad audience appeal as the Olympics. If you want to attract new viewers to our game, you need the star power. Why would a periphery viewer want to watch that level of hockey when there is better on 50 other weeks of the year? The “athletes of tomorrow” branding only brings in so high of ratings.

    The professional designation doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Who cares that someone is getting paid to do their sport? Why not keep the Olympics the stage where the best athletes compete? Otherwise the Olympics becomes this point-in-time assessment of which countries have young athletes with potential…only to never really get to see full-scale talent that they develop to on a broad world stage. Yeah, every sport will have a world championship of some sort but the brilliance of the Olympics is that they’re all brought together. Fewer people watch the figure skating or speed skating championships on their own, but you combine all these events together and interest is up. It’s not as good for amateur athletes, but better for sport as a whole in my opinion.