Capital News editor Kevin Parnell

Parnell: A return to the Olympic spirit

No NHL players in Olympics? A breath of fresh air says managing editor Kevin Parnell

This week’s news that the NHL has decided—at least for now—that it is not making its players available for the 2018 Olympics is being greeted with derision from the very players that make up the NHL.

The player’s union has come out against the decision and at least one superstar—Alex Ovechkin—says he will leave his NHL team to play in the Olympics.

While this seems to be more about politics, money and ongoing negotiations than anything—we’ll believe NHL players won’t be there when we see it—a return to the spirit of the Olympic movement would be a breath of fresh air for a sporting event that is supposed to be about amateur athletics.

And we don’t have any sympathy for NHL players that want to play in the Olympic tournament. NHL players are already living what you might call the dream, raking in big money for playing a game, drowning in worship from adoring fans and living outside the realm of reality.

When was the last time an NHL player actually worried about putting food on the table, or making enough money to put their kids in sports or recreation? Heck, when was the last time they had to purchase any of their own equipment?

No, these players have it pretty good we think. And deservedly so. They are the best, or had the best opportunity. But why should professionals get to take part in the Olympics alongside athletes who are going into debt just to try and represent Canada?

In Olympic tournaments gone by—pre-NHL involvement—Team Canada’s national program would ice a team made up of players that likely did worry about their next pay cheque and their future. Players who could not make the NHL but still pursued their dreams of hockey.

Canadian athletes in all kinds of other sports train incredibly hard looking forward to the Olympics every four years. They make no money, they receive little support and no fan-fare. And every four years they produce spine-tingling moments of the highest sporting calibre because they have achieved so much, with so little.

No NHL players at the Olympics? It’s about time the event was returned to the amateurs.

•••

Speaking of hockey, congratulations are in order for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, who won the battle of the Thompson-Okanagan (Okanagan-Thompson?) with a six game victory over those rival Kamloops Blazers in the first round of the WHL Playoffs.

It’s truly been incredible what the Rockets have accomplished during their time in Kelowna. In a sport where player turnover continues on an annual basis and teams routinely have sub-par seasons, the Rockets just continue to put up great season after great season.

They are once again in the hunt for a championship and its well-deserved for the players, coaches, staff and management.

We say good puck against Portland in round 2 starting Friday.

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