Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - Page 19 News List

NHL eyeing gold, silver and cash

Reuters, TORONTO

“Obviously, the Olympics presents a unique opportunity. The fact that we have the best players in the world playing on that stage and we want to create as much momentum as we can going into the Olympics and as much as we can coming out as we possibly can,” Collins said. “That’s why we bookended the Olympics with games at Dodger Stadium, Yankee Stadium on the front end and Soldier Field and BC Place on the back end.”

After tense negotiations with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL has decided to remain part of the Olympic program and will use the Sochi Games to promote its players and league.

Hockey’s biggest names will be back on the Olympic ice from Feb. 9 to Feb. 25, with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is set to lead Canada’s gold medal defense against a Russia team that has made standing on top of the Sochi podium a top priority.

However, all that glitters is not gold and the chase for the silver Stanley Cup will be the main target for all 30 NHL teams, particularly those based in hockey-loving Canada.

Not since Montreal celebrated the last of their 24 Stanley Cups in 1993 has the treasured trophy been paraded through the streets of a Canadian city and the country is determined to see hockey’s “Holy Grail” return to its spiritual home.

Nowhere are expectations higher than in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs will try to end the NHL’s longest active Stanley Cup drought.

The Maple Leafs, the only NHL franchise to be worth US$1 billion, have been a massive success everywhere but on the ice.

It has been 45 years since the Leafs last sipped from the silver mug and their fans, who pay the NHL’s highest ticket prices, are demanding more for their money.

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