2. Yzerman IMO people tend to forget how big of a part of shedding the dead wings label he was, he was the face of the org for a very long time. But I am biased because he is my favorite player of all time!
I don't like professional athletes in Olympics to begin with.
I like the Olympics for the same reason I like College sports (not Football or Basketball those sports are run like pro sports even in college).
Even if the Russian team really was a pro team, the Miracle on ice is special because of the people involved, not the countries, it was scrappy college kids VS the BIG RED MACHINE!
Sure the US V USSR was a story line, but if this version of the US men's hockey teams beats Russia 4-3 will it be the same story as before, I say no.
The only real story would be the Russians losing at home.
But then again that is my opinion, and my opinion often times differs from the popular opinion.
Where is the line drawn though, anyone with endorsements is considered pro, or anyone with a contract from a pro league?
I also think the venues have a lot to do with the way athletes have viewed the Olympics.
Being in the US, Canada, London, China, or Japan is a lot different from being in Sochi or South Korea. Athletes, especially professional athletes in NA have become very accustomed to a standard of living and accommodations, which is one reason Sochi is getting such bad press. Spoiled or not, not being able to flush toilet paper or having to take a dump next to another person would be enough to turn me away.
The infrastructure and the demands on a town like Sochi are too high for underdeveloped nations or cities (I admit Russia is not underdeveloped, but Sochi is/was.)
They spent billions of dollars to get Sochi ready, yet it isn't ready. There are still hotels that were meant for the Olympics that are concrete and re-bar, the well documented Dog issues that plague the Olympics, the Sewer/ sanitation issues, cleanliness of hotel rooms, all things that are being well documented. The conditions of venues is also an issue. Not saying there weren't issues in Salt Lake or Vancouver, but they were not safety and hygiene related!
Think about the GNPs of these nations,
1. US ($16 T)
2. China($8 T)
3. Japan (~$6 T)
4. Germany ($3.5T)
5. France (~$2.5 T)
6. UK (~$2.5 T)
7. Brazil ($2 T)
8. Russia ($2 T)
9. Italy ($2 T)
10. India (~$2 T)
11. Canada (~$2 T)
12. Australia ($1.5 T)
13. Spain (~$1.5 T)
14. Mexico ($1.1 T)
15 South Korea ($1.1 T)
Do you really think things will be better in South Korea than in Sochi (2x the GNP)? Plus you add to that the political climate there is far worse than it is in Russia.
I am not saying they couldn't pull it off, Greece did, other smaller Scandinavian countries have, but those were different times, Athletes now are some of the highest paid people in the world, and as I said above have become accustomed to a certain life style, sharing the crapper is not something I would sign up for and my life is no where near as luxurious as theirs!
As far as the comment about Hasek getting his medal from Nagano is off base as Japan may be small size wise, but is very large when it comes to GNP and their ability to spend money to get a venue ready and is also a very technologically driven country, granted their Nuke Plants may not be very strategically stationed but they still have many advantages over Russia.
The NFL is looking to make changes in the way it is officiated, the NBA(even without scandals included) has been out of whack for a while and MLB is straight up crazy with Ref/umpire Bias.
The NHL is no different, in the past 20 years the 4 major sports in America have increased in size, speed, skill, intelligence and equipment (lighter/faster and bigger/safer) the Refs have for the most part remained the same. Think how old the NBA and MLB officials are and how many have been there for 20+ years.
I use the NBA as a great analogy for this, look at the refs, how many are over 6 feet tall, yet how many NBA players are under 6 feet tall. They are outclassed, simply put.
The only people who can keep up to the speed, size and skill of the game, are playing the game, they can not officiate themselves, the game is too fast, too big for the officials.