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Friday February 12, 2010 12:48 pm

NHL ceases operations for Olympics

Alex OvechkinThe NHL is going into its final weekend of play before they shut down operations for the Olympics. With the amount of players leaving their clubs to represent their home countries, many NHL players will have a chance to play for something a little different, while many more are being given a two-week break from play to recover and become stronger for the playoff stretch. At the same time, trades will also cease across the board, putting the entire spotlight on not-so-snowy British Columbia.

All 30 teams will be represented at the Olympics, and 145 players will participate overall. The San Jose Sharks leading the group, sending eight of their roster to the Games, with Anaheim, Detroit and Vancouver will send seven each. At the other end, the New York Islanders will be sending only one player, Swiss defenseman Mark Streit. This will be a great representation of the NHL at the Olympics, which may help to promote the game on an international stage.

The NHL trade freeze began at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, which means that general managers can’t swap players for the duration of the Olympics, effectively putting a complete halt on on-ice and off-ice action across the league. The GMs are allowed to discuss trade options, but no paperwork will be filed during the two week break. The roster freeze ends at 11:59pm on Feb. 28, and will run until Mar. 3, when teams will undoubtedly move as many players as they can to improve their own rosters.

This is a strange year for the NHL. With the Olympics taking place in an NHL-city, the league had no choice but to suspend play. Why the trade policy was made is questionable. Maybe the NHL didn’t want players to learn of their trade while playing for their countries in an international tournament. Maybe the trade deadline was put after the Olympics because they didn’t want players to be forced to be traded before the Games and have that weighing on their minds. But with no on-ice action, the media – should they find time to report on NHL matters – will only have trade speculations to talk about, so for those the population not interested in Vancouver, which will only increase as countries are eliminated, trade rumors will grow, and those will reach the players, who will have nothing to do but wait.



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