Considering that the US/Russia game was the highest rated hockey game ever on NBC Sports Network, and it was a 730am game, I'd say the NHL sending their players over is pretty good.
4.1 million during the game.
6.4 million during the Oshie show.
NBC Sports Network says 4.1 million people in the United States tuned into the Americans' dramatic 3-2 victory, a record number for a hockey game on the channel. When the game when to a shootout, 6.4 million people tuned in to watch T.J. Oshie score four times to lead Team USA to the win. The ratings are even more impressive considering the game aired on Saturday morning back home.
it is really the only contact sport played between the 2 former hated rivals. I wouldn't read that much in to it to be honest. Tell me what the ratings for a non USA game were in the states. What are the ratings in the countries like solvenia etc ?
If the NHL pulls out of the Olympics the quality of Canada, the United States and Sweden would take the biggest hit. That doesn't mean the overall quality would suck.
Just looking at the 1980 Olympic rosters of non professional North Americans--the United States team had 11 guys who went on to have fairly lengthy NHL careers--Ken Morrow, Mike Ramsey, Mark Johnson, Dave Christian, Neal Broten, Mark Pavelich, Rob McClanahan, Jack O'Callahan, Bill Baker, Dave Silk and Steve Christoff. Jim Craig and Steve Janaszak also played NHL.
Other players from the 1980 Olympics:
Canada--Randy Gregg, Glenn Anderson, Paul MacLean, Jim Nill, Don Spring, Tim Watters
Russia--Viacheslav Fetisov, Alexei Kasatonov, Sergei Makarov--practically the entire Russian team could have easily played in the NHL.
Finland--Jari Kurri, Kari Eloranta, Mikko Leinonen
Czechoslovakia--like the Russians--most if not all of these guys could have played in the NHL--they included future NHL'ers--the three Stastny brothers--Marian, Anton and Peter. Miroslav Dvorak, Jiri Bubla and Jaroslav Pouzar.
Sweden--Mats Naslund, Pelle Lindbergh, Tomas Jonsson, Thomas Eriksson, Lars Molin, Bo Berglund, Bengt Lundholm.
NHL teams might also make these games more accessible to their better prospects--even pro prospects. I expect the quality would be pretty high.
Give credit where credit is due. Good game by Slovenia. They figured out the defensive weaknesses of Austria: No coverage in the slot whatsoever, sleepy while shorthanded. And they exploited it. This could have been worse scoring-wise. Austria generated ONE good scoring chance all game and Kristan came up with the big save on Grabner when he needed to. Props.