Jeremy Ayotte: Contributor
That time is almost here again – the time where athletes from around the world compete in a series of winter sports trying to get the gold medal for their country – the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Set for Pyeongchang, South Korea, there is one sport that fans feel will be lacking its usual luster – hockey. The National Hockey League (NHL) has decided not to send its players to the Olympics, and this has caused outrage and confusion among fans. There are a few reasons why the NHL have decided not to attend, the simplest of these reasons is that the owners of clubs do not want to get their players injured. This makes the most sense as due to the compressed schedule during the period which the Olympics take place and then, the regular hockey season happening soon afterwards it’s easy to see why the owners would be afraid of this. After all, these players are making tons of money, and if one of those players got injured it could hurt a teams’ chances for the Stanley Cup. Not to even mention the injuries that could be season ending for players such as John Tavares and Henrik Zetterberg who both participated in the 2014 Sochi games. Some might say that if the players go however, that it will help grow the sport since more people will be exposed to it. However, there is evidence that this is not the case. While the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998 it has not seen a rise in overall interest of the sport. To add to this, the NHL has been unable to show the great moments in Olympics hockey, while the IOC (International Olympic Committee) gets the rewards for having that moment. An example of this was in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when Sidney Crosby scored a game winning goal against team USA for the gold medal. The NHL has not been able to show that, but those that saw that game saw it.
Due to these reasons, NHL players will be missing the Olympics in 2018. There are however other world hockey tournaments that the league can use to grow the sport such as the World Cup of Hockey which was restarted in 2016. While some may think it’s a shame that the NHL will not participate in Pyeongchang, I think the league will do just fine.