NHL Not Going to 2018 Winter Olympics, and Players Are Not Happy (Tweets)

NHL 2018 Olympics

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The National Hockey League ended months of speculation on Monday, officially announcing that they will not be sending their players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

And yes, it’s all about money.

Sending NHL players to the Olympics does not really cost owners money, as the league still plays the same amount of games. However, sending players to the Olympics does not make owners money, either.

Originally the idea was that allowing NHL players to participate in the Olympics would grow the sport in new markets around the globe and lead to increased attendance and television ratings at home. And in the early years that sorta happened. But in 2014 it did not. There was no post-Olympics bump in ratings or attendance for NHL teams following a relatively boring tournament in Sochi.

The NHL is still very much interested in taking part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, because the NHL thinks they can grow their brand in China. However, the NHL does not think they can grow their brand in South Korea. So they started looking for conciliatory offers (i.e. money) from the International Olympic Committee, the NHL Players Association, and the International Ice Hockey Federation in exchange for allowing players to participate in 2018.

Unfortunately, the IOC, NHLPA, and IIHF would not give any ground. In fact, the IOC responded with a threat: if the NHL does not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, they will not be allowed to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

At that point the NHL and the IOC were basically playing a game of chicken. And on Monday the NHL stepped on the gas and crashed head-first into the IOC.

Here is the league’s official statement:

“We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

Of course, now the NHL has a public relations nightmare on its hands.


But it’s not just because fans want NHL players to participate in the Olympics. The players also want to play in the Olympics. And they are not holding back their criticism of the decision. Take a look:

The NHL Players Association had this to say:

“Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season’s schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage. The League’s efforts to blame others for its decision is as unfortunate as the decision itself. NHL players are patriotic and they do not take this lightly.”

Nice work, Gary.

Hat Tip – [ESPN]

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