Olympic vs NHL style of Hockey

I am at best a casual hockey watcher, so I could be entirely off on this, but is Olympic hockey better than the NHL version?

It seems like the Olympic game is faster, more free flowing and overall more exciting to watch than the NHL.

I know there are some rule differences (no trapezoid, bigger ice, no fights) and the teams don’t seem to have those couple of guys who can’t play but seem to be on the ice to only hit people. Are there other differences?

For you folks who do watch hockey regularly, do you get the same feeling about game quality? And if so, why won’t the NHL bring the same excitement to their league?

The Olympics have much higher talent density, for one. A bunch of all-star teams playing each other where they’re actually trying to win, and in single elimination to boot. If you contracted the NHL down to 8 teams or so you’d likely get a similar result - in the playoffs, at least. Hard to get as fired up for the 23rd regular season game.

Gorsnak nailed it. Bigger stage, bigger stakes. Different coaches. Concentrated players. TJ Oshie is the best shoot out player in the NHL. But when he’s playing for the NHL, he’s just one of 100, rather than one of 5.

Women’s soccer is the same. The same women play on the same leagues all year long, but at World Cup time, they’re 10 times better. There’s just more of an investment in the outcome.

For instance, Justin Faulk has been a star for the US national team, but on the Hurricanes he’s just another player, and the Hurricanes suck.

I believe fighting is legal in Olympic hockey, you just don’t want to serve a 5 minute penalty during the Olympics, same for playoffs.

That all makes sense. I wasn’t entirely sure if it was a rules thing or the fact these are the top players in the world going at it.

All I can say is I’ve it’s been a fun tournament.

So which NHL team is going to have the most players showing off their new medals? I know my home team, the Stars, will have at least two (Kari Lehtonen with Bronze and Jamie Benn with Gold or Silver for Canada) but there’s bound to be team with more than that.

Wings have 6* Swedes who will be getting one.

*Franzen was selected to the team as well, but was too injured to play at all, so I am assuming he won’t get one.

5 and a game for fighting in the Olympics. I guess it’s legal in the sense that you’re not ejected from the tournament entirely.

They’ll never make fighting a game penalty in the NHL because it gets rid of “enforcers”. This is considered a problem in two ways; first, without enforcers, a team’s best player is going to be targeted for injuries (and before anyone says, “Well, then just suspend the player(s) who caused the injury for the same number of games,” that would just cause teams to start suiting up “expendable” players), and second, this would pretty much ban enforcers, and the players’ union wouldn’t stand for it.

The larger ice surface makes a big difference. It spreads the players out, increases the need for precision passing and forces the defense to be more mobile by having to cover a larger area.

The NHL size rink was fine when the players were physically smaller. In a perfect world most everyone would like an Olympic sized rink but the owners don’t want to remove the couple of rows of prime, high ticket seats. That’s why there has been talk of going to a 4 on 4 game but the players union doesn’t want the loss of jobs. That’s also why they go to 4 on 4 in overtime. It’s a compromise.

Personally I think that the larger ice has made the game significantly more boring. You can’t score from all that extra ice along the wings at this level of the game – the goaltenders are far to good to be beat from that angle and distance, and passes from the boards take longer to reach a scoring area, given defenders more time to close and cut off the pass or block the shot. This has completely killed the cycle game for producing significant offense. In theory the wider ice would lead to more offense in transition, but in response every single team is trapping heavily, so that’s shut down too. Also, because the cycle game is so worthless, teams have little motivation to press hard in the cycle, so they almost always have one forward high to foil any transition chance.

Well, that, and the fact that fights are popular among the fan base. I enjoy some good hockey, but I think it would be better without the fighting. I think that’s a minority opinion among hockey fans.

I look forward to Olympic Hockey every 4 years. Part of it is because I like more open ice and less of the macho bullshit, but most of it is because it’s a great all-star competition where the players really give a damn about winning. I saw some talk last week of bringing back a hockey world cup competition using NHL players, and I’d love to see that again.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last time that NHL players are in the Olympics. The NHL GM’s hate it. The Rangers and the Islanders each had a key players that sustained injuries that will keep them out for a significant number of games.

While it is counter intuitive, ice hockey should be moved to the summer games. Water polo, wrestling, gymnastics, volleyball or anything else that is played indoors (like ice hockey), could be moved to the winter games. I know that is unlikely but get ready to watch Olympic hockey without the best players.

And yet, basketball and football, which also have big stars vulnerable to injury, don’t have goons whose only job is to get in fights, and they don’t seem to have ‘expendable’ players going out and targeting the stars. It’s worth noting that at some times and places in basketball, there were semi-designated tough guys and fights did occasionally happen. But the modern NBA doesn’t allow it.

So I don’t think hockey is anything special that requires enforcers.

It is true that a) a hockey fight is much less dangerous than a fight between two guys on solid ground; and b) hockey players get accidentally hit (with pucks and sticks) much harder than any punch from a guy on skates could give.
But that’s maybe a partial explanation for why there is a culture of hockey fights, not a reason the culture can’t be changed.

The fact that Olympic/international hockey essentially eliminates fighting - it does happen but it’s exceedingly rare - frankly puts the notion of “you need enforcers to protect stars” to lie. It’s complete nonsense. Star players don’t get targeted in international hockey; you didn’t see anyone headhunting Sidney Crosby or Phil Kessel.

Indeed, it isn’t even how the NHL works anymore. Once upon a time teams would employ a Dave Semenko to frighten people away from Wayne Gretzky, which might or might not have been a useful thing to do - Gretzky played just as well and just as safely without Semenko in the lineup as with - bu that is not how it works anymore. Now goons mostly engage in arranged fights with each other and are, as often as not, the designated cheap shot artists themselves. Buffalo’s John Scott doesn’t defend his team’s best players, he headhunts the other team’s skill players.

I’ve sometimes wondered why they don’t move a few sports out of the summer games to the winter (boxing comes to mind in addition to a few mentioned above). I think it’s because they want to keep the winter games exclusively for sports that have an ice or snow element to them. I can’t think of anything contested in the winter games that doesn’t fit that description.