Felix’s Corner: NHL Skipping 2018 Winter Olympics a Mistake
This Article was written by Felix Chow on Pucknology.
So this has been a hot topic for quite some time ever since the IOC decided not to pay for the NHL’s travel expenses, and while there might have been a sliver of thought that maybe the League would sign off on shutting down the regular season for three weeks for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Commissioner Gary Bettman shut the door on all that at the recent general managers’ meetings in Florida saying nothing new has developed from negotiation – according to a report by Ross McKeon of the SF Gate. That essentially means while it’s not yet official, it’s a given that the NHL won’t be going to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Safe to say the players aren’t happy, and rightfully so. I mean, I get that most people think that the Olympics is corrupt and the World Cup is a cash grab — which it is, I’m not saying it isn’t — but let’s face it. Organizations always want their share of the profit. The NHL feels there’s no money to be gained in South Korea, so they focus on the 2022 Beijing Olympics because of the Chinese market.
To me, I’m not a financial guy so I wouldn’t be able to comment much on the business side of things. But I am someone who believes that players should be able to proudly represent their country no matter the circumstances.
I took a poll (see tweet above) that lasted until yesterday morning and the consensus was that most fans don’t agree with this decision either. From a fan perspective, we want to watch hockey. We want to watch these guys play for pride– not just for their teams but for their countries as well. Sure, the NHL held the World Cup before the current 2016-17 season, and may be planning on holding another tournament sometime in the future with the 2018 Olympics out of the equation. But you know what? The World Cup will never be as big as the Olympics are.
In my opinion, this is a huge misstep for the NHL in the international market. This isn’t just about the cash grab. It’s about trying to promote the game as much as you can if you’re Gary Bettman. You’re making plenty of money from all the outdoor games you’ve given to various teams, mainly the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Players want to play on the international stage. Heck, being able to medal after the final round is probably the second best achievement to winning the Stanley Cup.
So while I understand that there isn’t enough here to convince the league and that the situation may be loads complicated than just sending players overseas to play the game they love, I don’t like this decision at all.