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Should NHL players be allowed to compete in the 2014 Olympics?

February 9, 2010 | 10:37 am

Brown Will this be the last Winter Olympic Games for the NHL?

The future of the NHL's participation in the Games is in doubt because  the league has not decided whether it will allow players to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has called the midseason Olympic break a "strain on the players, on the schedule and on our fans here" and has said the league receives little positive impact from the Olympics when the Games are played outside North America.

Obviously, the Olympic break isn't an ideal situation for the NHL. While it does give players a chance to rest and heal from injuries, it does little to generate fan interest. And for teams like the Kings, who've won nine of their last 10,  a late-season, two-week break is the perfect momentum killer.

If the Olympic break were in November or December, this would be less of an issue. But with the playoff race so close in the Western and Eastern conferences, you can see why team owners aren't thrilled with the idea.

Still, the issue is not that clear-cut. Olympic participation is popular among NHL players and it's included in the league's current collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. So it'll be interesting to see how hard the league and its owners are willing to fight before the agreement expires after next season.

In addition, other professional leagues, including Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, will be allowing its players to take part in the Games. If NHL players were barred from playing, certain countries -- primarily Russia -- would hold a significant talent advantage over the rest of the competition.

But what do you think? Should the NHL allow its players to compete in the Olympics, or is it too disruptive to the season?

-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Dustin Brown. Credit: Tom Szcerbowski / U.S. Presswire