NHL says NO!
The NHL has decided that they will not go to the 2018 Pyeongchang. Sports is not a topic I will write about normally, but as a sports fan, I have to voice my opinion. The Olympics has been a showcase of hockey for as long as I have been watching. I love watching Team Canada to do battle with the world watch them come out on top. It has become part of our culture and part of other hockey cultures. The long-standing rivalries between the top countries is always fantastic to watch. Russia, Sweden, the US and Canada have powerhouse teams with enough skill and speed to present huge entertainment value. Audiences all over the world should be able to witness this fantastic best-on-best tournament.
The NHL cannot manufacture the excitement of the Olympic Games
The NHL tried to mimic this feeling when they created the World Cup of Hockey. It is important to remember that the NHL profits from that tournament almost exclusively. I went to a World Cup Game and seeing all of my heroes in person was amazing. But the Olympics has a much richer tradition associated with it. The gold medals are more sought after than the (NHL created) World Cup. The history and prestige the Olympics has is truly unique. Players want to be in this tournament because, unsurprisingly, it means more to them than the World Cup of Hockey.
What makes this so sad is that it all comes down to greed. The NHL said that they will not pick up the bill for travel and insurance costs. Well that problem was solved when the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) offered to pay for it. What the NHL really wants is to have top sponsorship status for the Olympic games. Hockey is only a small part of the Olympics and although NHL players make the tournament more appealing, I do not think it warrants top sponsorship. The NHL is really just upset that they do not get a bigger cut of the profits. The other parties involves are non-profits that reinvest profits into hockey development across the world. Why should the NHL bosses get to pocket money that should be going towards worthier causes? This is the true reason the NHL is refusing to send their players, they are greedy.
Greed, greed, greed
The NHL bosses make a ton of money off their players as it is. The NHL season has 82 games regardless of whether the players go to the Olympics or not. The tournament takes two and a half weeks to complete. The NHL schedule gets a bit crowded to compensate for the tournament, but the NHL does not lose money. The NHL bosses are totally against going to the Olympics because they believe the financial risk is too great. If their players get hurt during the tournament, the NHL argues they will bare the burden of those long-term costs. This may be the case, but the NHL makes so much money that they should be willing to take some risks to help grow the game.
Some players are going no matter what
Greed should not decide if the NHL players are going to the tournament. In fact, many NHLers have already expressed their desire to go, regardless of the NHL’s decision. Alexander Ovechkin has already vowed that he will go, because he believes it is the biggest honour to represent his country. All of the NHL players that have participated in the tournament feel the same way. They want to represent their countries.
Asia is a market that could be great for hockey. The next two Olympics are set in South Korea and China. This presents the NHL with a great opportunity to showcase hockey in that region. They can also showcase the talent of their NHL players. The NHL is going to miss that chance because they are distastefully greedy.
The really sad part is that fans are not mentioned in any of the articles about this story. Fans should matter in these kinds of decisions. Fans want to see the NHL in the tournament and the NHL is stopping that. The NHL should be making decisions based on what is best for the sport, not what is best for their bank accounts. The NHL has too much power and I get the feeling we are headed for another lockout when the contract expires 2021-2022. It is a sad time to be an NHL player or a fan.