If you live in Canada and are still not up to speed on the start of the NHL season, then you must have been living under a rock for the past month. As far as the rest are concerned, they could not wait another second for the start of the season, which will be significantly impacted by the Olympic hockey tournament. Here are three factors to consider when looking at the 2013-2014 campaign as it relates to Sochi 2014.
1. THE SCHEDULE
The NHL will take a break from February 9 – 25, 2014 in order to accommodate the biggest hockey tournament in the world. The schedule has therefore been adjusted accordingly. The season started earlier and will end later than usual. This break could turn out to be beneficial for certain NHL teams wanting to rest their injured/fatigued players. Having said that, other teams may be jeopardizing their season by risking the health of their star players while they’re out representing their respective countries.
2. NEW RULES
Just like the players, the fans will have to get accustomed to the new rules implemented by the NHL this season. As subtle as they may be, these changes may have a significant impact on the outcome of a game. The new rules include hybrid icing, shallower nets, shorter goalie pads and prohibiting a player from removing his helmet prior to engaging in a fight. The wackiest of all, according to several observers, is the one requiring players to wear their jerseys outside their pants. Let’s just say that Mr. Ovechkin has more or less embraced this new restriction. As if it wasn’t enough, an additional adjustment will need to be considered for the Sochi Games. A bigger ice surface, different icing rules and a zero tolerance approach to fighting will present their share of respective challenges.
3. THE OLYMPIANS
Injuries and fatigue must certainly be a major source of concern for most of the NHL’s teams whose stars will be making the trip to Sochi. It’s a long season and rest will be vitally important. On the other hand, some hockey players may be driven to make the most of this situation by seizing the opportunity to break the lineup of their respective countries and raise eyebrows in the process, something that may prove beneficial to a few NHL teams looking to make the playoffs.