"Do not forget one thing—the ratings of the final of the Olympic Games are way higher than the ratings of the final of the Stanley Cup," IOC President Jacques Rogge told SI. "So this is a fantastic promotion for hockey in North America."
While more Americans now know Miller and Parise, the NHL has never been able to forge more than a transitory link between the Olympics and its game. And Wayne Gretzky isn't sure anything else is even possible. "The reality is, this is a two-week high," Gretzky, a former Canadian Olympian as both a player and a general manager, said over coffee last week. "Does [the Olympic break] hurt the NHL a little bit? Yeah. But I don't think it's going to hurt anybody in the big picture.... It's also a question of honor. The Russians honored us by sending their best to Vancouver, and they should have the same from us. Russian people deserve to see the best Canadian players. The last time they had that chance was 1972." Henderson's year.
The contentious issue will percolate until NHL owners come down on the side of balance sheet or ice sheet, the magical place where Crosby snatched a small piece of forever from a group of Americans who played with speed, toughness and honor. In a world fixated on searching for the next big thing, hockey should savor an incandescent moment that might well have been the last big thing.