The Price of Gold: Wayne Gretzky defends NHL players at the Olympics

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So the Sochi Winter Olympics are over, Canada came away with the gold medal in men's and women's ice hockey and now we're just waiting for the resumption of the NHL on Tuesday night.

We were treated to some great games at the Olympics and I think that game between USA and Russia will live long in everyone's memory, especially if your name is T.J. Oshie.

So after what will be a 17 day break, the NHL returns and we have heard a lot from teams and owners about how bad the Olympic break is, but what do the players think about it?

As with any form of international tournament, there are always going to be injuries, its just a part of the game, but four big name NHL players have returned from Sochi a little worse for wear.

Paul Martin of the Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a hand injury and could be out for up to a month meanwhile the New York Rangers leading scorer Mats Zuccarello has returned with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand and could be out for 3-4 weeks.

These injuries while damaging, are not disastrous.

Unlike the Detroit Red Wings who have lost their captain Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the regular season with a herniated disc in his back or perhaps the biggest injury to John Tavares of the New York Islanders whose season is over due to a torn medial collateral ligament.

Granted, injuries are a big reason why NHL team owners, coaches and league officials may want to rule the players out of participating at the next winter games in Pyeongchang- (Thats in South Korea for those who aren't familiar with Asian cities.)

Not all after effects are due to the amount of games played during the Olympics for those lucky enough to be chosen to represent their country.

The New York Rangers tweeted on Monday that goalie Henrik Lundqvist would be evaluated and the reason was not because of the Olympic workload, but cause of the travel.

Despite all this negativity, there are some big names in hockey who have come out and defended the players' rights to play in the tournament.

The most notable name is NHL hall of famer Wayne Gretzky who represented Canada at the 1998 and 2002 Olympics.

Gretzky said: "When we grew up as kids we dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. That was a goal that if you made the NHL you couldn't play in the Olympic Games,

"So if I had a vote, I would vote to go because I love the Olympic Games and I think there’s no bigger honor, there’s no bigger thrill than representing your country and being part of Team Canada.

"It’s something you can’t even describe how special of a feeling it is to know that you get to put that red and white jersey on.”

Gretzky's comments certainly do sum up the emotion and the main reason why NHL players want to play in the Olympics.

I think it is human nature to want to win as much as possible and winning an Olympic gold medal can be seen as perhaps the biggest sporting achievement in the world.

Do you think the Finland players are disheartened at returning home with the bronze? No.

I think they are filled with pride that they went there and came away with two major upsets, some great memories and an Olympic bronze medal.

Perhaps from a business point of view, it is not the smartest idea for the players to go but its hard to put a limit on a players ambition, particularly when it is that same ambition that owners and coaches rely on to win championships.

I don't see an easy resolution to this problem in the near future and the NHL player's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics is still a mystery.

All that being said, the players should be allowed to make up their own minds on whether or not they compete for their country when all is said and done.

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