Recently, The National Hockey League made the tough decision to prevent any involvement with the 2018 Winter Olympics. Despite much discussion between the NHL and the IOC, the two sides failed to agree on a compromise regarding player’s travel and insurance costs.
Of the many arguments against NHL Olympic participation, one of the most obvious is one’s rest in the break necessary to accommodate the international games. Many owners across the league have a distaste for the 17-day break required in February. Certainly, that time frame is a valuable market opportunity in the sports world, as neither the NFL or the MLB play in February.
Aside from the scheduling issue, injuries have been a cause for concern regarding NHL involvement in the Olympics. In the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barlow and New York Islanders center John Tavares stood among the crowd of noteworthy injuries from the games. As a result, the players’ seasons are threatened by participating in the Olympics, a source of contention for owners and officials alike.
Of course, the players have varying opinions on this. Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin maintains his intention to play in the Olympics, despite the NHL’s recent decision.
“My decision is the same,” said Ovechkin. “So, I don’t know what’s going to happen right now, but we just have to wait [to see] what they say, and we’ll see…but obviously, I said I’m going to play.”
Ovechkin is one of many who share the mindset that it would be an honor to play for their country. In fact, Henrik Lundqvist echoed Ovechkin’s thoughts, tweeting, “Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted.”
Indeed, hockey fans have thus far shared the same level of frustration as the players. By cutting ties with the Olympics, fans are prevented from seeing the best athletes compete on an international level.
“I am upset, but it will grow the sport for the amateur guys,” said Noah Linkner, sophomore. “For example, a guy who doesn’t make it to the NHL has the chance to prove why he needs an NHL contract in the Olympics. It will be another farm system for the NHL.”
Looking beyond the current situation, there is a possibility that the two sides could reach an agreement prior to the Olympics. As of now, players who decide to attend the Olympics will most likely face punishment by the league.
While the move goes against the ideals of hockey fans alike, there is solid evidence backing the NHL’s decision, giving them the upper hand moving forward.
Read more about the decision online at nhl.com.