CVS Bums Smokes, NHL Should Boycott Sochi

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Full Disclosure : I'm a Toronto Maple Leafs fan. They're among hockey's hottest teams with nine wins in their last 12 games. Phil Kessel's on fire. And the way the boys continue to bounce back from spurts of poor play (like Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to Florida) makes me think this year could be different than others with similarly high hopes.

So, given this hot streak, the Leafs fan in me worries about the unknown of how teams will respond after having their seasons interrupted by the National Hockey League's participation in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

A whole slew of clubs could use the break, but it seems to me the Leafs would be better off smokin' 'em while they got 'em. A break could make the recent run go limp.

But there's a bigger issue at play here.

One that relates, in some fashion, to CVS Caremark's decision to stop selling cigarettes and focus on its image and core (?) business as a healthcare provider .

Let's not mince words -- it took balls to make this move.

Despite intuition that this benefits Walgreens and Rite Aid , I reckon it puts pressure on them to do likewise. The real losers are tobacco companies.

CVS sees the future. There will come a time -- in the not so distant future -- when selling cigarettes at CVS, Walgreens or Rite Aid will be akin to openly displaying porno mags in the checkout line. Probably worse.

The NHL had the chance to make a similarly gutsy move. But it dropped the ball.

If you have a soul, an ounce of compassion and a working brain, this video is tough -- near impossible -- to watch. So, please, use discretion if you choose to roll it. But it must be broadcast as widely as possible. After I saw it -- as I was in the middle of thinking about the NHL on Sochi -- I could do nothing other than include it.

This is the country the NHL is sending its players to. Forget the real possibility that somebody gets blown to bits by a suicide bomber for a second and stop and think about this.

This is the National Hockey League -- an entity that went all-in on a move as gutsy, if not gutsier, than CVS's decision to man up to a social/health issue and stop selling tobacco products.

Now, just a couple years later, every single franchise in the NHL officially supports the You Can Play project. Outside of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, I'm not sure there has ever been a more impactful stand for human rights in sports that transcends sports . Yet the NHL heads to Russia, a place where the State effectively sanctions discrimination -- and much worse -- against LGBT persons.