Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 08/23/13 at 01:32 AM ET
The issue of contract insurance for NHL players participating in Olympic orientation camps is such a problem in terms of cost that Sport-Express's Andrei Kuznetsov reports that even the Russians aren't skating today or tomorrow in Sochi, but ahead of the Canadian Olympic orientation camp in Calgary from Sunday the 25th to Wednesday the 28th (and the U.S. camp in Arlington, VA on the 26th and 27th), and as you might expect, Hockey Canada's takng some press flak for not being able to scrounge together the funds to be the only hockey federation that managed to get its orientation campers on the ice (the Swedes, Finns, Czechs, Slovaks, Swiss, etc. did not skate).
The Canadian Press's Donna Spencer noted that Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and 2014 Olympic team GM Steve Yzerman aren't happy about the no-ice situation:
“It’s strictly insurance,” [Nicholson] explains. “It’s because of the high cost of insurance Hockey Canada is obligated to place on the players we’re not going to skate.”
It’s up to each country’s federation to insure NHL players against injury at summer camps. Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson has said that would cost over $1 million for the invited 47, whose combined 2013-14 salaries total $259 million, according to capgeek.com.
Canada’s isn’t the only ice-free summer camp. USA Hockey has also decided against an on-ice component to its men’s Olympic camp in Arlington, Va., on Monday and Tuesday.
The 2014 men’s Olympic hockey tournament will be played on wide, international ice, which places a premium on a player’s skating ability. The new Markin MacPhail Centre at COP boasts a rink that size. When asked if he wished the Canadians could make use of it next week, Yzerman said “yes” twice.
The 2002 Olympic gold medallist was also executive director of the victorious 2010 squad. He says even a couple of practices could lay important groundwork for the Winter Games in February.
“We have such a limited amount of time to prepare,” said Yzerman, the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I think we’ll have two, maybe three, practices in Sochi prior to the Olympics. The summer camp, and it’s only a few days and six months in advance, but it’s a little time for the players and coaches to get on the ice and kind of run through some of the systems, the way they’ll play, the power play, penalty killing, neutral zone and things like that. At least you’ll have an idea way ahead of time as to how we’re going to play. That, to me, was the most important part of going on the ice in August for a few days.”
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