February 23, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Red Wings players want to go to 2018 Olympics in South Korea

Tomas Tatar, left, here playing for Slovakia in the games in Sochi, Russia, is one of the Red Wings players who is eager for a return trip to the Olympics in four years. (Alexander Nemenov / Getty Images)

Detroit With the Winter Olympics over, it's time for the speculation to begin on 2018.

Will the NHL send its players to South Korea for those Olympics?

The travel is even further, the time change worse than Russia, and it's a market that isn't a traditional hockey hotbed.

But ask NHL players, and they want to continue the league's association with the Olympics.

"I don't think the Olympics would be the same (without NHL players)," said Tomas Tatar, who represented Slovakia in these Olympics. "You want the Olympics to have the best athletes. I know for owners and (general) managers the injuries aren't the best (news).

"But it's just part of hockey. The injuries can happen here, too."

Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated the league will examine the positives and negatives of the Sochi Olympics as they move forward and make a decision regarding 2018 in conjuction with the NHL Players Association.

Injuries to Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disk) and the Islanders' John Tavares (knee) point to the negatives, along with the necessity of shutting down for for nearly three weeks.

"You see players sustain injuries that'll keep them out the rest of the year (and) it's tough to travel as far and miss as much of the regular season," Justin Abdelkader said. "It's going to be a hot topic.

"(But) at the same time the Olympics are special, as is playing for your country."

Said Johan Franzen: "All the players want to go there. It's a little bit of a break for the league, but we have a break every year with the all-star break. This is longer, but it's something we should continue. It's a big deal. It's a big deal to win that gold."

Franzen ready

Franzen(concussion) continues to skate daily and is banking on returning Wednesday in Montreal with the regular season schedule resumes.

Franzen has played one game since Dec. 15, returning Jan. 26 to play against Florida, but waking up two days later with reoccurring concussion symptoms.

"It's been pretty good," said Franzen of his practicing last week. "I am optimistic (about returning Wednesday)."

Franzen will see a doctor Monday, at which point he could be cleared to play.

Franzen watched with disappointment Sunday as Sweden lost to Canada in the gold medal final, knowing he had to withdraw from the Swedish roster in January because of the concussion.

"Very disappointing because of the team we had, and the team we should have had," said Franzen, noting centers Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin (ribs) and Nicklas Backstrom (suspension) didn't play Sunday.

Dominant performance

Red Wings players and coaches were impressed with Canada's dominating performance Sunday over Sweden, and its dominance throughout the tournament.

Mike Babcock coached Canada to back-to-back gold medals.

"It was absolutely air tight," associate coach Tom Renney said of Canada's performance. "Canada was just too good, too organized, too well prepared, too dialed in. Too, too, too."

Said Franzen: "Canada played good. Sweden didn't get much. You need a little bit of a luck to be able to stay in a game like that, you need a break, and we didn't get that fortunate bounce."

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