By Matt Hermiz
The start of the Winter Olympics nears, and with it comes the men's ice hockey tournament.
A tournament that, once every four years, brings on a nation-wide celebration of our country's game. It brings on a chance for all of us to come together and rejoice being Canadian.
The one caveat this year, as we all know, hockey's biggest stars won't be taking to the ice in South Korea.
No golden goals from Sidney Crosby. No shifty foot trickery from Mario Lemieux. No shutdown performances from Carey Price.
Quite the opposite, actually, as Team Canada embarks on its quest for a third straight gold medal in February, the NHL will skate onwards -- competing for viewers, with a busy schedule leading up to the annual media frenzied trade deadline -- which comes just one day after the championship game in PyoengChang.
No NHL stars means no NHL shutdown, which means no microscope on Olympic hockey from our sports media.
All eyes normally fixed on the pursuit of our Canadian national team, may remain focused on the daily beat of writers still working NHL assignments.
Well NHL, you're second rate to this hockey fan when the puck drops in South Korea.
Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs? That can wait. Trade bait? No thanks.
Come February 15th, these adoring hockey eyes will shift firmly overseas, to watch, join in, and celebrate the next chapter of our storied hockey history.
Let's not pass up the nation-wide party, every four years, that is the journey of our men's national team at the Olympic Games.
No NHL, no problem.
There will be lots of dramatic, meaningful, heart-dropping hockey to watch come mid-February.
Lots of reason to wave our flags, honk our car horns and cheers our neighbours.
Hope to see you on the wildest ride in sports.
Here's to a three-peat... Gold Canada, Gold.