To play, or not to play: that is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to represent your home country in the World Cup of Hockey (or Olympics) , or to prepare for a Stanley Cup battle…Okay, enough of that. Shakespeare quotes always cause me to shudder, thinking of the monotonous memorization from 12th grade English class.
For those that follow hockey, the World Cup of Hockey is coming to a close (currently Canada leads Team Europe 1-0 in a best of 3 series for the final). This tournament is trying to be reborn as it has been on hiatus since 2004, but the tournament has only been played twice (1996 and 2004, where the US won in 1996 and Canada won in 2004). While players love to pull on their home country colors and compete for the title, both the World Cup of Hockey and the Winter Olympics are not directly related to their jobs (playing in the National Hockey League). At what point does the NHL, and by extension, the teams themselves, push back and say, no, you cannot play in these tournaments? The tournament isn’t even over and NHL clubs are already starting back in training camp mode and pre-season games have even started.
During the tournament (so far), there have been seven notable injuries (3 of which have afflicted Dallas Stars players). One broken foot, one broken hand, one fractured heel, one groin injury and three concussions, affecting a combined $28.557 MILLION dollars worth of contracts. Five of the seven injuries will be between one and two weeks recovery; however, Marian Gaborik with the LA Kings is slated to miss up to 8 weeks with a broken foot and Stanley Cup-winning goalie Matt Murray with the Pittsburgh Penguins is slated to miss up to 6 weeks with a broken glove hand.
Following a devastating knee injury during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics to star player and team Captain John Tavares, New York Islanders GM, Garth Snow, said it best: “Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season ticket holders now? It’s a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players in Olympics and don’t want to pay when our best player gets hurt.” Tavares ended up missing the remainder of the 2014-2015 season, including the playoffs with a torn meniscus and MCL. During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, another seven notable injuries affected a whopping $32.675 MILLION dollars worth of contracts. During the 2014-2015 season, the NHL made a sizeable $3.98 BILLION dollars in revenue (modest compared to MLBs $8.65 BILLION or the NFL’s $11.83 BILLION). At what point do the Olympics and the World Cup become more of a financial question for the league and less about playing for your home team?
On the Stars’ front, with injuries to Tyler Seguin, Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky during the World Cup, training camp and pre-season games took on a whole new meaning for the younger guys. However, on opening day of training camp, Cody Eakin went down with a lower-body injury that will sideline him for about 6 weeks. While I think the Stars have one of the deepest teams in the league when looking at the entire roster (NHL and AHL clubs), the number of injuries that have begun to mount up will really push the levels of creativity.
On the positive side, Faksa and Hemsky are due back by the start of the regular season (Friday, October 7th on the road against the LA Kings…who will be without top winger, Marian Gaborik). Tyler is tentatively scheduled to be ready by the start of the season, but using his past freak-ish injuries in the past, his healing tends to be on the high side of the estimation times, so in essence, it is a crap shoot on when Tyler will be back to full strength. But clearly my previous post regarding the addition of Jiri Hudler was a bit off, and the Stars look well prepared to get the season off to a strong start as they took down their Central Division foes, the Saint Louis Blues, in a 3-1 victory on Monday. This should be a fun season again!