Well after months and month of speculation on whether the National Hockey League would allow their players to participate in the upcoming Olympics in South Korea, the final verdict has been put in and it’s a no. Of course myself and many other hockey fans out there are very disappointed with this decision but I can see both sides on why the NHL won’t send their players for a 2 week tournament during the middle of the 2017-18 season.
It all comes down to cost of covering the players, the international Olympic committee was not willing to cover the costs of NHL playing in the Olympics. Meaning the NHL would be receiving no insurance on any of their players potentially getting injured. The NHL wasn’t going to take that risk and I for can’t blame them. A lot of people are disappointed that commissioner Gary Bettman is the face of decision and that hockey will be taking a hit on being able to grow the game. The TV networks that showcase both the Olympics and the NHL such as NBC are highly unhappy with the decision the marketing aspect and generating revenue for the sport and networks will take a hit.
I was hoping the NHL and IOC would back into a deal in the 11th hour but here we are left without the best hockey players in the world participating in my mind one of the best tournaments hockey has to offer. If the NHL wants to grow their brand it starts with international tournaments on this type of stage. The 2022 olympics in China could be in question, and the NHL wants to grow the game in the China market. For those who don’t know there will be pre season games being played in China next season. Hockey is your typical niche sport the NHL should take a look at the bigger picture on the future of the game and how Olympic participation should be a must every 4 years. The players love playing the Olympics and it gets hardcore and casual fans something to talk about. The IOC should sack up and do the NHL and big favor and protect these players. But for now guess we are stuck with potentially a second showcase of the world juniors.