It's probably a little early to worry about, after all the Turin Olympics are still a year away, but there is a rumbling, that unless something happens soon in the NHL/NHLPA dispute, the idea of professionals at the Olympics may be an idea in danger.
Of course if the labour dispute is still going strong by Olympic time, then there's going to be an awful lot of talent chomping at the bit to play some hockey. Perhaps for Olympic glory, we should be hoping for a long a drawn out affair lasting until at least March of 2006.
Having lost half of the current season and with little to indicate that the second half can be salvaged, the two sides will have to turn their attention to getting things on track for next season. But if they do manage to salvage things for 2005-06, it might be doubtful that the owners will want to take a two week break for the Olympics, after spending 365 days down and out.
If they withhold permission for the NHL roster players to travel to Italy then it's back to the good old days of a National team, those hard working everyday guys like O'Malley, Huck and Glennie who toiled for Canada against the powerhouses of Russia and Czechoslovakia back in 1968. Or some soon to be household names like Gregg and Anderson, who wore the maple leaf in 1980. If the pros can't go, then a whole new generation of Canadians may get to wear the colours of the land, while their professional counterparts travel to the outposts of a restarted NHL.
The other side of that argument though may be the saving grace for NHL participation in the Olympics, having been out of the media spotlight for over a year and desperate to rebuild a brand in the USA the quickest way may be to give American's (and Canadians) a quick shot of meaningful hockey. Sending the pros to Turin could be the kick start to rebuilding the games reputation, at least lets hope that's the way they think it out, should they of course ever get to that point where there is hockey on again to worry about!