Last Sunday was Hockey Day in Heaven. The Olympic tripleheader began with Russia playing the Czech Republic, continued with Canada facing the United States and ended with Finland versus Sweden. These were, in order, replays of the past three Olympic finals. In the 135 years since hockey moved inside, never had so much talent assembled in one arena in one day. Of the 132 participants, 113 play in the NHL.
Consider this Exhibit A in the case for NHL participation at Sochi in 2014. True, Olympic hockey cannot be replicated in the NHL regular season. But these games were an embossed invitation to embrace the sport. Certainly there are obstacles to continued participation, including NHL owners who think shutting down post--Super Bowl for two weeks is the height of fiscal idiocy. But if the league turtles because the ephemeral benefit of goodwill does not show up at line 38 of the Blackhawks' balance sheet, Gary Bettman, who championed NHL players' becoming part of the Games in 1998, will be remembered as the commissioner of the National House League.