Monday, November 03, 2008

When they won't let you play for the crest on the front anymore!

The International Olympic Committee is flexing its muscles these days and Hockey Canada is flexing right back!

Over the weekend came word that the IOC is enforcing its regulations over national crests on sport uniforms at the Olympics, a move that forced Brazil and Argentina to make wardrobe modifications at the recent Beijing games and an edict that will make that Canadian maple leaf crest disappear from Canadian uniforms at the Vancouver games of 2010.

It’s a suggestion that has outraged Hockey Canada officials, who suggest that giving in to the IOC is putting Canada at a disadvantage on its very own ice.

The concept of the rule seems a little hard to grasp, considering the nationalization of the games over the years, which despite the lofty goals of a one world body of athletic achievement really is more about usurping as much money out national Olympic federations every Olympic cycle.

Taking the crests off the uniforms seems counter productive to the nature of the national element of the games and most likely more towards the goal of protecting the logos and imagery of the IOC and it’s variety of corporate sponsors.

Chris Rudge, the COC's chief executive officer however says that the folks at Hockey Canada need to take a step back, as nothing has been written in stone yet and it’s a matter for the IOC and the IIHF to negotiate a solution to.

Those are words that probably won’t bring much comfort to Hockey Canada considering historical differences that past conversations with the IIHF and Hockey Canada have provided for over the years.

And judging by the directions that the Canadian Olympic Committee and Hockey Canada are going on this one, the internal debate in Canada may very well more heated than any discussions that the IIHF and IOC may share in the near future.

2010 is the last of the Professional Olympics, with NHL and European players allowed time to play for their respective nations. That deal is up for renewal with the NHL inclined to no longer allow for national team projects, while the NHLPA is said to be anxious to continue the current process.

It will be quite interesting to see if the uniform and branding issue intrudes on those negotiations, if Hockey Canada is adamant about their position on the Maple Leaf crest, one suspects that a dandy bargaining chip might be the future participation of the best that hockey has to offer on the ice!

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