By David Dickenson
With much of the world watching as Sochi, Russia gets set to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, the men’s hockey competition will be the crown jewel of the event.
The best from the NHL, KHL
and the various European leagues will be on hand to represent their countries in hopes of winning a gold medal, but for fans of the NHL, especially fantasy hockey fans, this international tournament could have even greater repercussions.
The NHL will be on break during the hiatus and things are going to get a little topsy turvy around the league. Players will be off to represent their countries at the Olympics, those not participating will get a nice mid-season vacation and the world’s eyes will be glued on the wonderment of the magic which is the Olympics.
The break is a going to throw the whole season into chaos with various possible outcomes for all the teams and their players.
Those actually taking part
The players actually participating in the event will have their days and nights mixed up with the change in time-zones. Some may have to battle some jet lag on the flight to Russia and some may suffer some after effects from the tournament.
Any of the big five contenders for the gold medal (Canada, USA, Sweden, Finland and Russia) have high hopes going in and will be giving everything they have for a shot at a medal, since it’s a once in a lifetime experience for most of these guys.
Such efforts could lead to injuries at the event and anyone playing these extra games is now coming back with more risk. If you have them on your fantasy hockey rosters you’ll have to monitor them with caution.
Another potential red flag for fantasy hockey coaches with Olympians on their team is the possible emotional hangover from the Olympics. Hopes are high, but there are only three medals to give out… and for some anything less than gold will be seen as a failure. If Canada were to come home without a gold medal or even empty handed, what kind of effect could that have on their respective seasons and what kind of trickle-down effect will it have on their teams? Could they return and have a negative impact on their team and locker room, could their attitude lead to being benched and possibly shopped? These are grown men being pushed to the envelope and walking an emotional tightrope with the entire world’s eyes on them and their home country’s hopes pinned onto them. It’s a great burden to place on their shoulders.
Those who were snubbed
Some guys didn’t even get to Sochi before having their dreams crushed and now have something to prove to the management teams and coaches which didn’t feel fit to include them onto their rosters.
Guys like Bobby Ryan
(USA), Martin St-Louis (
Canada) and Eric Staal
(Canada) are examples of this! Three very skilled players who were expected to be part of their country’s Olympic effort, three very proud competitors and three men with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove to everyone in the league including the coaches and GM’s who left them off their respective rosters. I’d look at picking up guys like this as they should be picking up their game and re-focusing their efforts on showing what kind of mistake everyone made forgetting about them!
Those who are hot right now or injured
For those not going to the Olympics to compete, well they will have a big impact on them as well. Some players are really hot right now, some get hot late in the season and some are nearing returns from injuries which have kept them out of the lineup.
These players are now getting set for some down time and risking losing some of the good chemistry going on, meaning they could cool down more easily than heating back up again.
These players may have to deal with changes in team chemistry with line mates potentially playing on Olympic rosters and getting used to other teammates, altering the chemistry they had before going to take part in the games.
Also, some players are known for getting hot around mid-season and then cooling down the stretch. They may still have some energy in their tanks after the break, or more likely it may make them cool off even worse than they normally do.
In all honesty after the Olympics is a completely new season for everyone in the league. Everything pre Olympics doesn’t matter that much anymore, unless you’re Edmonton
who have pretty much secured their spots in the draft lottery.
Teams which typically get hot late in the season would be better bets this season compared to most, given the season will be much longer… and the players on those teams would also be good bets to look at adding to your roster at the trade deadline.
It’s going to be a matter of what each player makes of their new season and you’re going to have to play your hunches.