Decision on 2018 Olympics should be easy for the NHL

It is a 14 hour time difference between the east coast and Pyeongchang, South Korea. That’s five more hours than the nine-hour difference that has fans waking up at all hours of the night to catch Olympic competition at the 2014 Winter Games.

Among other things, the time difference is one reason many think that Pyeongchang will be the first Olympics to not see the NHL send players to participate. However, with the potential for another terrific run by the US driving fans to their television sets, the NHL may need to reconsider their stance on pulling their players from Olympic competition.

The final decision on sending players to the Olympics is complicated. The NHL and NHLPA need to get together with the IOC and IIHF to line up everything from player insurance to the scheduling crunch that comes with a two-week shutdown of the league. But the benefit to the game and the league is massive.

After the US victory over Russia in the prelims, the game led the ABC National News. That’s a non-hockey network leading their national broadcast with NHL stars triumphing for the US. The re-run of overtime and the shootout drew massive numbers and TJ Oshie, Jonathan Quick and others have been all over programs like the Today show as the NHL’s players have taken the forefront for the second-straight Olympics. Continue reading

Revisiting my US Olympic Hockey roster projections

Earlier in the summer I took the time to project who I felt would be donning the red, white and blue for the United States in the 2014 Olympic Games. With a quarter of the NHL season in the books there is a potential for a number of players to have cemented their spots or even opened the eyes of the USA Hockey executive team.

Considering the US doesn’t have the mountain of talent that is touted by the Canadians to pull from, there are more than a few assumed locks for the team. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel are both enjoying strong starts to the season and will certainly be counted upon to continue their elite scoring ways in Sochi. The story remains the same for many of the forwards I assumed would be making the squad.

What it will likely come down to is who has the strongest resume as the games near. While the orientation camp and preseason rosters were based on career resumes and the assumed growth of players, others have shot out of the gates and bear watching as the season progresses. Due to that, there is likely to be some shuffling amongst the names who already were considered favorites.

Max Pacioretty has only played 15 games and has accounted for nine points (7+2) in that span. His absence from the lineup and the slower start could bump him off the roster as could be the case for James Van Riemsdyk. He has 16 points (9+7) in 22 games and has a natural chemistry with Kessel, but he could also be supplanted by a new face should the executive staff go with who is playing best.

JVR is probably more of a longshot to be left off the roster than to make it at this point and Ryan Callahan’s injury issues to start the year and Dustin Brown’s unimpressive offensive output won’t win them many favorites. However, Brown and Callahan both serve incredibly well in a checking and leadership role, which will likely cement their spot on the roster.

My original roster only accounted for 13 forwards and seven defensemen as I didn’t account for the two extra roster spots made available for this year’s games. Given that my original roster now has two gift openings, there isn’t nearly as much trouble trying to narrow down who should and shouldn’t be packing up for Russia.

The players who have motivated me to revisit my picks include; Jason Pominville (13 goals already), TJ Oshie (21 points) along with a few others who I originally considered little more than darkhorse candidates (Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Fowler).

I truly believe that most of the American roster was decided early on as players like David Backes, Kane, Kessel, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were all but decided the minute the orientation camp roster came out. Others would certainly be favorites but would need a solid first half of the year to cement their spot, this is where I see some opportunity for turnover. Here’s my new roster with new names highlighted in blue: Continue reading