by PuckStopsHere on 07/19/09 at 05:47 AM ET
The NHLPA is making news in the hockey world by suggesting that players skip the on ice portion of the Olympic orientation camps that will be held by the Canadian, American, Russian and German Ice Hockey Federations. Their public reason is that it is not clear that the players have insurance coverage should they be hurt during the camp. I think the private reason is because these camps are essentially useless. The Olympics will occur in February 2010. The camps occur six months early in August 2009. They are far too short and far too far in advance to teach players a new system (assuming that is a smart move with the best players in the world) or get different players used to playing together. They are not needed to get players in shape for the Olympics. NHL hockey players will be in shape and anything they do six months in advance has little impact. They have developed out of the administrative desire to do something, even if it is useless, to try to gain an advantage in the Olympics. In theory orientation camps may sound like a good idea, but because of the NHL season, they must be held six months in advance, which is too early to be useful. That doesn’t stop them from happening. They are an administrative way to cover the hockey federation. If a country fails to live up to expectation in the Olympics, they cannot be blamed for not doing enough to orientate players.
Professional hockey players spend a huge amount of time playing hockey and staying in shape to do so. This is clearly shown by the fact that an Orientation Camp must be six months early in order to fit into their schedules. The players don’t need another date on their calendar where they have to be somewhere. They are training for the upcoming season. They are doing it their chosen location, which is likely close to home. There is nothing gained in forcing them to travel somewhere else to do it.
The Olympic hockey orientation camps are essentially useless. The players know this and would be happy not to have to attend them, without having their patriotism discussed in the press if they speak out against it. The NHLPA is offering an excuse that may help them to avoid a further obligation of no value. This is a positive move for the players that the NHLPA is taking.
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