NHL threatening to pull out of future Olympic games

Blake Wheeler, NHL player 

SOCHI, Russia -- At the winter Olympics Friday, the U.S. moved into a tie with Norway for first place in the medal count. Both have 13. The Netherlands and Russia have 12.

Hockey takes center stage on Saturday in a kind of a rematch in one of the greatest games ever played.

The miracle on ice took place in Lake Placid in 1980. 

It was a shock win by a bunch of American college kids over the supposedly invincible Soviet Union.

Now, for the first time, a U.S. Olympic team is on Russian ice and they'll face the Russians Saturday.

Not only that, the U.S. team, like all the big hockey teams in Sochi, is loaded with National Hockey League players. 

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NBC
  

For the last five Olympics, the pros have made the Olympic hockey major league, and a much more even contest.

“It will be a miracle to us, you know it will feel the same,” said Minnesotan NHL player Blake Wheeler if the U.S. wins.

  The Russians, led by Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin want revenge. Yet this could be the last time this high Olympic drama takes place.

The NHL is threatening to pull out of future Olympic games. 

To come to the Olympics, the league has to shut down at the height of the season so it assets can play for their national teams.

It risks its multi-million dollar stars for nothing but goodwill.

Instead of full arenas packed with fans, they are empty and it’s often tough getting people back. It is kind of like closing a department store for Christmas.

NHL deputy commissioner, Bill Daly said what the fans like, the team owners don't.

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Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner
CBS
 Within the hockey culture it’s a big deal, but within the business culture it’s not so much.

Daly believes that is a fair statement.

“Certainly from the NHL’s perspective there’s nothing kind of it in from a business perspective,” said Daly.

Yet the players love it. 

And so does that newfound hockey enthusiast, the shifty left-winger Vladimir Putin. Putin may be putting on the last big league Olympic hurrah.

  • Mark Phillips

    Mark Phillips returned to the CBS News London bureau as a correspondent in 1993. He has covered many major stories since then, including the war in the Balkans, the death of Princess Diana and the weapons inspection conflicts in Iraq.

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