In what is a totally unsurprising development, the NHL is starting to question their decision to allow their athletes to participate in the Sochi Olympics. The situation in Russia is questionable at best. Reports of the area around the Olympic site are saying that things aren't complete, or that the infrastructure is bad. Those rumors have been going around so much that Olympic officials have released a statement calling these Olympics the most modern ever. On the opposite end of that spectrum, CNN is calling them the most corrupt ever, and with Russia's reputation for bribes being a way of life, that is more in line with what most would expect.
These infrastructure concerns obviously are carrying over to safety concerns. Three more "black widow" terrorists have been identified and there are fears that an attack will happen in Sochi. Russians are concerned that terrorism will be the legacy of these games, and the BBC reports that British officials are basically convinced that the likelihood of attack is high. Can you blame athletes telling families to stay home?
The two NHL players who have gotten the most publicity for this have been Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, but our own T.J. Oshie won't have his dad in the stands, either. From CBS Detroit (don't read the comments - it looks like Drudge linked to the site):
While few Olympians seem concerned about their own safety, a significant number have expressed concerns about their family members, with many deciding to leave their loved ones at home.
"They’re not gonna go. It’s not worth it," Phoenix Coyote goalie Mike Smith told FOX Sports Arizona. "For myself, it’s about thinking if [my wife is] OK when I’m not with her. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way it is."
Vancouver Canucks Robert Luongo and Daniel Sedin will also not bring their families, Fox News reported. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild will not be bringing their supporters, listing security concerns as a factor, and speed skater Tucker Fredricks also asked his family to stay home so he would not have to worry about their safety.
According to Yahoo, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins made similar calls.
The father of St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie put it this way: "It’s getting to the point where our lives are on the line if we go there," Tim Oshie told the New York Times. "They’re talking about terrorizing families. I’d rather stay in the homeland."
I can't blame him. When you have a wide swath of athletes less than thrilled about bringing their families to watch them compete in a once-in-a-lifetime event, that's a sign. Bill Daly indicates that there is a reevaluation plan in place if necessary:
"As of now, we do not doubt that all necessary steps are being taken by the Sochi Organizing Committee, the Russian government and the IOC to ensure the safety of the athletes and guests in Sochi," Daly wrote Monday in an email to The Associated Press. "Obviously, if something significant were to transpire between now and February 9 that causes us to question that conclusion, we will re-evaluate. I don't expect that that will become necessary."
Unfortunately, it sounds like the players almost expect it to happen. Normally I am nervous about sending players to the Olympics because I don't want to see them get hurt on the ice. This is the first year I'm concerned about anything happening to them off of it.