After weeks and months of speculation and debates, Gary Bettman has officially announced that the NHL will not be taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics. The controversial announcement comes after plenty of debate regarding the safety of NHL players as well as the money aspect of having to take off from two weeks of NHL games.
The NHL owners may be happy but the players are less than thrilled. Players like Alex Ovechkin and Gabriel Landeskog have expressed their plans to go and compete in the Olympics regardless of the owner’s stands.
Other players have talked to media outlets about their thoughts on how this decision effects the sport and their countries.
Some have even pointed out the link to the “Miracle on Ice.” For teams like the United States and Canada, rosters are almost fully made up of NHL stars, taking these stars out of the equation does what to the landscape of the team? We will most likely be sending college and amateur kids to compete for the honor of our country, that would be fine if it was a competition for young kids. But it isn’t. Our young players will be playing against professionals from other nations, including Russia who will most likely have a team consisted of mostly KHL players. How can we compete?
Hopefully for the sake of the sport and the fans, the NHL think this matter out some more and come to a different decision.
As talked about in an earlier post, the NHL executives are leaning towards not allowing NHL players to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. With injuries being a point of concern in regards to NHL players competing in outside competition, it is no secret that owners want to protect their assets.
In more recent talks the issue of insurance regarding players has come into play. With players traveling and competing in the games, NHL teams and commissioners are forced to take out insurance on their players in case of injury or any other issues. With how many NHL players compete in the games, the cost of insurance adds up. As these concerns have arose, it seems like the NHL isn’t willing to sport the money, especially when they will have to put the season on hold for two weeks, which in turn means no money coming in.
Although I can understand the issue of money on the NHL’s part, it was brought to light that the IIHF have sported the money in previous Olympics and are probably willing to do so this time around.
The Olympics are games that show off the best athletic talents in each sport from all around the world. Not having NHL players compete in the games would be a massive misrepresentation of the sport as a whole. With teams like Canada, USA, and Sweden who rely on the NHL players to fill most of the roster spots, the team would be represented by teenagers and virtually unknown players.
Not only would this be a misrepresentation of the sport, I fear it would reduce viewership immensely. When you tune into an Olympic hockey game you are tuning in to watch NHL players compete for their country. It is fun to be able to see players who may be teammates in the NHL compete against each other on the grandest stage for two weeks. Although it is unusual to see highly physical games, the level of talent and stardom on the ice every game is extraordinary.
The NHL should suck it up and allow their players to do what they want. If they want to represent their countries they should be allowed to do so with no repercussions, if they don’t they will stay home. With the addition of bye weeks into the schedule as well as the all-star break, taking time off from the season really isn’t an issue. Allowing your players to compete grows the population of the sport, thus growing the fandom of the league.