On some level, the Olympics are about names. Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Nancy Kerrigan and Nadia Comaneci are well-known in their own countries. Even in hockey, a team event, individual names still carry their connotations. Boris Mikhailov, Peter Forsberg and Mike Eruzione can be associated with moments in Olympic hockey history.
So when the NHL began sending players, in 1998, the tournament was loaded with known entities. When they began to shine on the brightest stage, it took hockey to another level. Even with Hall of Fame NHL careers, the performances of players like Dominik Hasek, Sidney Crosby and Teemu Selanne in the Olympic arena have put them on an even higher pedestal.