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NHL All-Stars’ minds thousands of miles from Tampa as they ponder Olympic what-ifs

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NHL All-Stars’ minds thousands of miles from Tampa as they ponder Olympic what-ifs
TAMPA, Fla. – A horde of drunken pirates marched by the thousands through city streets and along waterways while Brent Burns, the Sharks’ scraggly bearded All-Star defenseman, entertained the thought of joining them from the other side of town.
Burns and his fellow All-Stars are in Tampa this weekend out of obligation, even though they’ll put on a grin and toe the company line for the greater good of the game.
NHL players will be absent from the Games for the first time since 1994 when the torch is lit next month after hockey’s biggest stars were forced to swallow their national pride and honor professional contracts.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Burns reasoned when asked about his frustration with the NHL’s Olympic decision, referring to the logistical complications that put the NHL at odds with the International Olympic Committee.
To no one’s surprise, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was familiarly curt on the matter Saturday at his state of the league address, even while many of his players are still lamenting their missed Olympic opportunity.
​ “Solution? That’s a good question,” said Islanders captain John Tavares, a first-time Olympian in 2014, when asked about finding an Olympic deal that works for all sides. “At the end of the day, I think we all believe it’s the right thing for the game.

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