The National Hockey League has decided that NHL players will not participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The NHL’s decision to pull out of the games came as a result of arguments between the NHL and the International Olympic Committee. Most of the player want to participate; however, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and other franchise owners do not want the players to go.
There were multiple reasons to why the NHL will not be participating in the games. If the NHL were to participate, it would force them to have a 17 day break in their schedule, which would result in a loss of a lot of revenue and would extend the NHL schedule farther. The International Olympic Committee has offered to pay $20 million dollars to pay for the costs and insurance for the players and crew but that was not enough to change the NHL committee decision. Another of the worries of the NHL committee is injuries. Bad injuries could result in the player not playing an entire season or a part of a season. Since it is the Olympics, most of the players are the stars of their teams and their injuries could affect the entire team’s season. Injuries would cost lost of money for compensation and with the International Olympic Committee not paying for the compensation, that would cost millions of dollars that they would have to spend in order to compensate their own players.
Alex Ovechkin was one of the players that strongly felt he should be able to go to the Olympics. Other players have also expressed their thoughts of not going. Ovechkin said, “I didn’t change my mind and I won’t.” On the other hand, Chicago Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews said he would respect the NHL’s decision and would not participate. Winning an Olympic Medal is one of the highlights of many NHL players careers and any potential dreams of Olympic medals will now be taken away. Many of the new NHL players who were recently drafted will not go to the Olympics.
Many fans of the NHL are not happy with the league’s decision to withdraw players from the Olympic games. NHL player Brandon Prust tweeted, “Way to ruin the sport of hockey even more Gary #Olympics.” The fans will not be able to see their favorite hockey stars playing for their country. Even people who don’t watch the Olympics are going to be disappointed by the lack of well-known and talented players. This will hurt the reputation of the NHL and produce more ill-feeling toward commissioner Bettman.
The U.S. and Canadian Olympic hockey teams relied heavily on the NHL players participating in the Olympics. The Russian hockey team will consist of former NHL stars who left for the Russian hockey league like Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Andrei Markov. They would have had significant advantage in the Olympic tournament, but Russia has recently been banned from the 2018 games because of drug scandals. The Canadian team will also consist of former NHL players who left the pro division for local other leagues around the world like Derek Roy, Max Talbot, Mason Raymond, Kevin Klein and Ben Scrivens. This definitely poses a huge challenge for Canada’s hockey team to stay superior in the Olympic games.
The last time the NHL players didn’t go to the Olympics, Canada did not win any medals. Since 1998, Canada has been undefeated and has won first place in all the world tournaments they have participated in except for the year of 2006.
Although the NHL is a hockey league, it is also a business. If you take away the money, there would be no NHL. With Canada not sending their NHL players history might repeat itself and Canada might not place in the top three in the 2018 Olympics. With the Olympics not offering enough money to compensate the money the NHL loses when they go to the Olympics, the NHL has made a decision that is disappointing to many.