The Olympics have been on everyone’s mind lately, and two things made me start thinking about the hockey tournament that we won’t have for another two years. First was Michael Phelps’ record for OIympic medals. The second was a mention of the Miracle on Ice.
Hockey players will never earn as many medals as a swimmer. Just by the nature of the competition, swimmers have more opportunities to win a medal. The same goes for gymnasts, skiiers and a plethora of other sports.
So I just threw out the idea on Twitter last night that the Olympics needs a hockey skills competition. I’m not talking about the circus that we have at the All Star Game with silly shots and the such. I’m talking a true skills competition with fastest skater, accuracy shots and the hardest shot
My thought was that it could be a gymnastics style tournament where you have team medals, all-around medals and then individual event medals.
But I also didn’t know how it would fit into the regular hockey tournament, which takes up a lot of time for those players. And that’s when Kevin Power, a fellow Rangers blogger, responded to me on Twitter.
His suggestion was the hockey tournament be comprised of the junior players, much like the World Juniors Tournament that takes place every year. Perhaps you expand it to be players under age 25 or 21 rather than just anyone under 20. It was interesting because Miracle on Ice was on my mind too and how we may never see that kind of Olympic hockey team again.
The skills competition, though, could be comprised of NHL stars. Maybe it’s a small group of NHL stars (five?) who then also are somehow involved with the tournament too maybe as mentors or coaches.
As the NHLPA and the NHL negotiate the new CBA, the league’s involvement in the next Olympics is sure to come up in conversation. It’s probably going to be a very minor part of the conversation since revenue sharing will dominate (as it should).
But I think this style of a tournament could work in minimizing the burden on the NHL. You would have far less NHL players involved in the tournament, which means the league wouldn’t have to shut down completely. But the league would still have a presence in the tournament.
There are other ways to get around the impact on the league and its teams. The teams would have to give permission for players to be involved (much like they have to do now with the world juniors). Secondly, those two weeks could have fewer games though the entire league wouldn’t be shut down.
I’m sure this style of tournament would never happen, but it’s fun to think about how to improve it.
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