Islanders GM has right point about leaving professionals off U.S. Olympic team

By Rich Mancuso

John Tavares injures his left knee in Sochi and his season with the New York Islanders is over. Maybe the Islanders have slim playoff chances but here is a reason  again why professional sports has to distinguish who goes and who stays home during Olympic game competition.

It is a similar debate about Major League baseball and their participation in what has become a popular and successful World Baseball Classic. Is this about national pride or risking season ending injuries that have implications for a team that is paying huge bucks to win?

Yes, that is the question here, and Islanders GM Garth Snow has every reason to not be content because his best player has been lost for the season. So, should the NHL refrain from sending their best to the winter games during the midseason?

Should Major League Baseball continue to have their mega contract-premiere player leave spring training camps and be a part of the WBC? Leave camp and risk injury before their start of the season?

There are management and fans of the Islanders who are displeased. And as there was last March, fans of the New York Mets were concerned and debating the WBC concept when David Wright pulled himself out of the U.S.A. lineup with a strain to his quad.

Though baseball will not get whipped from corner-to-corner about leaving their players home because the WBC is in the graces of their player’s union and there are incentives to leave camps during spring training.

Hockey works differently. This used to be an amateur tournament every four years. Then after 1994, with the United States thriving on success with other competition, and not with much success with ice hockey, the NHL and International Olympic Committee made a deal.

Send their best to compete with Canada, Russia, and other hockey dominating nations and disrupt the NHL season, in other words this is their version of an all-star game every four years.

But the implications have become apparent with one or two injuries on the ice that have impacted NHL teams in their playoff pursuits for the second half of a season.  Snow, said, “This is probably the biggest reason why NHL players shouldn’t be in the Olympics.”

The NY Rangers surely are not content. Mats Zuccerello is out with a hand injury   three or four weeks when he took a hit with team Norway.  And their top goal tender, Henrik Lundqvist, playing for Sweden and the Gold, caused a scare in the tournament when he went down.

Fortunately the Rangers got good news. The Islanders, it is a different story. But there has to be a concern and Snow has every reason to vent his frustration whether his team is playoff bound or not.

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