Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let the (Commerical) Games Begin

In my lifetime I have been lucky enough to see what I consider the 3 greatest moments in sports. Willis Reed dragging his screwed up knee on the court of Madison Square Garden in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals.

Reed hit 2 shots as the Garden crowd was going nuts, then took a seat on the bench for the rest of the game as the Knicks beat the Lakers. I got to watch Reggie Jackson hit 3 home runs on 3 pitches in 3 at bats against the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series to win it for the Yankees in Game 6.

Then I watched a bunch of unknown college kids pull off the greatest upset in sports when the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team shocked the Soviet Union's team in the semi-finals of the hockey tournament. I am glad I got to enjoy those moments because they will never get to happen again.

When people ask me who I think will win the gold in the Men's hockey, it will not matter because it will not help the sport grow in the USA.

Want some Olympic predictions then here is some; a major star will sustain a serious injury ruining his team's chances at winning or even making the NHL playoffs. The fans of that team's player will denounce the use of professional players in the games.

Everywhere but the USA will show huge increases in television ratings for men's hockey. If you have not checked most of Team USA's games are on at 3 PM EDT/12 PM PDT during the week with just the game against Canada scheduled for a prime time showing.

And to make it better does anyone know which channel they will find Team USA's games on if they want to watch them live? Why it will be on the USA Network right before the Westminster Dog Show and after wrestling.

Use NHL players and there will be no more "Miracles on Ice" unless Latvia beats Germany for the Gold medal and I can see all of you rushing to watch that great game.

Everyone makes a big deal about how important it is to be representing their country so why is only Jack Johnson the only member of the US Men's Hockey who will be taking part in the opening ceremonies? Oh that is because the NHL is not stopping play until after the games have already been underway.

The whole setup is designed so that the final four wind up as Sweden, Russia, Canada and the USA. Not a whole lot of drama when you are playing this games with NHL officials in NHL sized rinks which will favor the teams loaded with of course NHL talent.

But if you are a Ranger fan there is another reason not to be real happy about these games and that is because it means Henrik Lundqvist will add 5-6 more games to his season. In 2006 when Henrik Lundqvist won the gold for Sweden it came at a price for the Rangers. Lundqvist played in 6 out of the 7 games for Sweden in the 2006 Games and was worn out by the time the Rangers needed him in crunch time.

Lundqvist appeared in 53 games for the Rangers the entire season then was basically bad in the 2006 playoffs. If you need a reminder then Lundqvist was 30-12-9 2.24 GAA for the Rangers for the season.

In the Olympics, Lundqvist was 5-1 with a 2.33 GAA but come playoff time; Lundqvist was 0-3 with a 4.41 GAA. Now this is not to say that Lundqvist was the only reason the Rangers were so bad in that playoff series as others were worse.

By the time Lundqvist suits up for Sweden, he will have already appeared in 54 of the Ranger's 62 games played (that is if Lundqvist plays both games as John Tortorella has said he would). If Lundqvist plays in 5-6 games for Sweden then what is he going to have left in his tank for the Ranger's last 20 games?

Remember that Lundqvist complained of being tired by the end of the playoff series against the Capitals last year. Lundqvist played in 70 games just to get the Rangers into the playoffs so what is he going to be like if he come back and play another 15-18 games?

There is no drama in worrying about the health of Lundqvist (or for that matter Marian Gaborik too) so I will pass and keep watching the Ranger prospects. See the prospects still represent what is supposed to be the Olympic ideal which is the thrill of the competition.

Go ahead and listen to Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire, and Jeremy Roenick on NBC as that alone might drive you away from watching the games. I will pass as to me the Olympics is supposed to be about the challenges like the 1980 team.

I will stick to watching the Ranger prospects because they represent the Olympic Dream more than those appearing in the Olympics. They are chasing their dream not doing us a favor by stopping the NHL for a couple of weeks for a tournament that will not tell us anything.

Man I ever so miss Jim McKay.

(Lundqvist courtesy of NHL Media)

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