BostonBruins.com - The league announced today (July 19) that NHL players will be participating in the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The agreement was reached between the league and NHLPA with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.
The Olympic Break in the 2013-14 season will run from February 9-25. The preliminary round begins on February 12, with the gold-medal game slotted for February 23. NHL season play resumed on February 26.
"The National Hockey League features the most international player population in professional sports, and our outstanding athletes take tremendous pride in representing their homelands on the global stage," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the league's press release announcing the agreement.
With the Olympics, the preseason schedule gets pushed up to September 13, with the regular season campaign opening on October 1 league-wide and on October 3 for the B's.
An already short summer because of last year's lockout season and the Bruins going deep into the Stanley Cup Final is beginning to look even shorter, and the Olympic Break will cause a jam-packed 17-game March with four back-to-backs and very reminiscent of the lockout-shortened season.
But for the players who are chosen to represent their countries, which the NHL estimates to be around 120, they would gladly take that in return to compete in the Games.
And, obviously, for those not playing, the break offers the chance for the other NHLers to rest and recover before the playoff push.
Bruins' Olympic Influence
Six Bruins currently on the 2013-14 roster played in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla taking home the gold medal as part of Team Canada.
David Krejci suited up for the Czech Republic, Zdeno Chara captained Slovakia to the bronze-medal game, new Bruin Loui Eriksson played four games with Sweden, and Dennis Seidenberg represented Germany in his third Olympics.
Look for the above players, plus notables on the B's roster, who could challenge for spots before the final rosters are announced sometime in late December or early January.
One member we know is already booked for Sochi is Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, who is an assistant coach for Team Canada (Detroit's Mike Babcock is head coach as he was in 2010).
Seidenberg unfortunately won't get the chance to compete in Sochi, as Germany didn't qualify for the 2014 Games, getting beat out by Austria in February's Group D qualifier. Three round robins were played, with the three group winners - Austria, Latvia and Slovenia - making it to the Olympic tournament.
When I spoke with Seidenberg the day after about it, Germany had won their final round-robin game against Austria in overtime, but had needed a regulation win to move on to the Olympics. He was pretty disappointed for his home country, but took it in stride.
Having competed three times previously, he has those special memories to carry with him. As does Zee.
“I had some great memories. Beating some quality teams and playing very good throughout the whole tournament, that was very positive,” Chara has said of his time in Vancouver in 2010.
“Being part of the Olympics is something very special."