by PuckStopsHere on 02/21/14 at 12:46 AM ET
The news out of the Olympics today is that John Tavares of the New York Islanders is out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury. This is a significant hit to the New York Islanders. They lose their best player. He is currently the third highest scoring player in the NHL.
As big a hit as this is to the Islanders, realistically it changes little in the NHL story this year. The New York Islanders have little realistic shot at making the playoffs with or without Tavares.
Despite the hit to the Islanders, the Olympics are good for hockey. The best hockey in the world is played every four years. It far outdoes anything the NHL offers us. The medal round games will likely be the best hockey games we have seen since at least 2010 in Vancouver.
The great hockey games of the Olympics are in the interest of all hockey fans. Hockey fans should want to see great hockey. If the cost is an unfortunate injury, that is a cost worth paying. Injuries are part of hockey. Not playing games for fear that players get hurt is silly.
The problem is the moneyed interests that control the NHL do not have hockey's best interests at heart. they have the interests of their pocketbooks. They have no problem shutting the game down each and every time a CBA ends to extort a better deal from the players. They have no problem threatening to leave the Olympics to extort a better deal for their pocketbooks. Many would happily leave the Olympics since the Olympics do not pay them money. This is a fundamental problem in pro sports. The game has nobody looking out for its best interests. It is run by people who only care about extracting as much money as possible from the fan. When those interests clash, hockey and other pro sports lose.
An injury to John Tavares is unfortunate. An injury to any player is unfortunate. Injuries happen. They cannot be avoided. If an injury is a byproduct of a great hockey tournament I will accept it as collateral damage. If it happens in an NHL game, I would also accept it as collateral damage. At no point would I consider that the fact the injury occurred means we should no longer play hockey. The problem is some people in the NHL are considering this.
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