Today after months of back and forth between the NHL and NHLPA the league has came to the final decision that for the first since the 1994 Winter Olympics. The 2018 Winter Games are being hosted by the South Koreans. This marks the end to the NHL’s 5 consecutive run in Olympic participation.
Gary Bettman has voiced for months that owners from around the league expressed their disapproval with their players playing in the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea.
Prior to this becoming a topic of discussion and debate around the hockey world in North America the NHL had put out poll to see if the fans were for or against the players playing in South Korea. These polls were done in both Canada and the United States.
The results of those polls highlighted that the fans from both countries were against participation. In Canada the tally was registered at 53% while in the United States that figure was much higher and coming in at 75%.
To note that back in 1998 when the league started it’s streak of continued Olympic involvement the NHL had showcased 709 players along with an average participation rate of 141 per campaign when the Winter Games came along.
Since Olympic participation the International Olympic Committee in agreement with the NHL has taken care all of expenses for each player who plays in the tournament. However going forward for the 2018 South Korea Games the IOC has notified that it has terminated that arrangement with the NHL.
Another thing that was brought out in the open was that several hockey clubs worried about the potential injuries implications due to a condensed tournament schedule.
In the 2014 Winter Olympic’s hosted in Sochi, Russia several NHL superstars were victims of the injury bug that carried over to their NHL team they played for. To name of few Islanders Captain John Tavares, Detroits Captain Henrik Zetterberg, Ryan Kessler of Anaheim, and Rangers Mat’s Zuccarello. Each of those players were out of service for a significant amount of time for their respected NHL clubs.
The wear and tear factor is always something that comes in play when tournament has a tight schedule on the books and players exhaust the energy needed when their team is involved in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By the time the playoffs comes around those players who played in the tournament could become a liability and thus causing their hockey club to be knocked out early.
The league may revisit this topic again with the 2022 Olympics comes around which is being hosted in Beijing, China.