FanPost

Will day-job alliances affect olympic play?



Consider the following hypothetical situation. Yes... it's VERY hypothetical, but it's just an example of something that *could* happen.

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It's February 2010. It's the gold medal game vs Russia and.. oh let's say.. Sweeden. The game is tied and it's in OT. The Russians chip the puck ahead and it curls around behind Lindqvist. Nick Bacstrom zooms back and chases it around the net... but there's OV... rushing in on the other side like a freight train. Backstrom is caught like a deer in the headlights. The way OV plays, he slams into Nikkie with the same zealousness that he used when he blew that hit on Malkin.. hitting him hard enough to get him to cough up the puck and there's OV... all by his lonesome right in front of Henrik with the puck. He roofs it and wins the gold.

Rewind to right before OV makes the hit, during his charge. Do you think it's possible something might pop up in his mind last split second that makes him think "I could destroy Nikkie, get the puck and there's my chance to win the gold.. BUT that might injure him and take him out for months... thus significantly reducing our NHL teams' chances at winning the Stanley cup"?

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I know it's a stretch (and let's forget about how possible a scenario is like the one above) but we have to admit: Situations like this might pop up; either super critical ones like above mentioned or something as minor as a D-man deciding if he should really whale that hard on the guy creating a screen in front of him because the guy happens to be his NHL-teammate (I don't know why but the pic of tom Poti ramming his stick into Umburger's back before getting owned the other week is popping into my head).

The decision to not allow NHLers to play in 2014 olympic hockey has me torn, not so much about worries over injuries to players who are getting paid tons of money but because of the following dilemna:

* If you want to prove your  country's team is the best in the world, then shouldn't you have the BEST players so there's no doubt your country earned that gold medal?

But on the other hand..

* You have to wonder if there are little alliances that could, even subliminally, be making your team "pull their punches", causing the best players to play less then their best, effectively giving us less of a "world class" performance anyways? I guess it wouldn't be as big of a deal during the non-Olympic world championship because it's played during the NHL offseason, and your team would have enough time to rearrange a few things. But the Olympics come right at the start of the home-stretch for the NHL: The do-or-die time where a club teetering on the #8 position needs every tiny little advantage it can get.

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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