In case you missed it, here's a link to what IIHF PR hack Szymon Szemberg had to say about players who might want a break after the NHL playoffs. In particular, he laughed at 'excuses' such as:
- I am tired.
- I am injured (…but had my team advanced to the next round of the playoffs I would have played)
- I don’t want to leave my family. Three weeks is an awfully long time away from home.
- I have no contract for next season. If I am injured, my career is in jeopardy.
First of all, the IIHF has to understand - particularly in a season where we had an Olympic hockey tournament - that the World Championships are just not a consequential tournament. No kid in North America grows up dreaming of playing them (I can't speak for European players.) They're up head-to-head against the NHL playoffs, and team rosters are filled with players who've been eliminated from the playoffs. So why would a free agent risk injury for a tournament like that? Why wouldn't someone who hasn't seen his kids all year want to see them instead?
Szemberg actually calls out individual players:
"Why is that a 23-year-old Niklas Bäckström is suddenly injured and unable to come to Germany when he played 22 minutes per game in Washington’s seven playoff games and would have played had the Caps advanced?"
It might have something to do with Washington being his employer, and paying him to play injured. Including pre-season, the Olympics and the playoffs, Backstrom has played more than 100 games this season. Is it possible that he really does need a rest?
When I was 23, I played a 25-game college season and got considerably less than 22 minutes of ice time a night. By the end of the season, I was physically-hobbled from all the contact and took months to recover. Call me a wimp, but I can't imagine playing 100 games of professional hockey, even if it was my day job and I had access to the best medical staff in the world.
There's so much else wrong with this press release, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to address it. At the very least, votes at the Toronto Star are running 82% in favor of Sidney Crosby's decision to skip the WC.