Why the NHL should keep going to the Olympics

By  | November 25, 2014 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Sports

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So ever since 1998 when professionals in the National Hockey League first invaded the Olympic winter games in Nagano, Japan there has been an ongoing debate as long as a country mile whether or not we should continue allowing the NHL players at the games or if we should keep it to amateurs like we did a generation ago and before.

Alright, here’s the thing, the NHL owners, never known for having anything but narrow-minded tunnel vision don’t want players going over there anymore. They don’t like shutting their business down for two weeks midseason. They don’t see the financial asset that comes with the players going to the games. They don’t want their star players injured as they are trying for a long playoff stretch drive.

Be that as it may, this explains why the NHL has resurrected the World Cup of Hockey. There will be a tournament in September of 2016. Look, I love the World Cup, there have been some great moments in hockey history in these tournaments (formerly known as the Canada Cup which started in 1976 and spanned the 1980s up until 1996 when the name was changed). I think it’s a wonderful tournament and the players love it as well, as do the fans. The thing with this tournament is that the NHL has more control over it. They control the schedule, it panders to the Eastern time slot and the venues can be in Toronto or Montreal for example.

The NHL had no problem with the games being in Vancouver in 2010 because it was local. They knew it would be a success and their dream came true with a Canadian/U.S. gold medal game on Canadian ice. That didn’t happen in Sochi, Russia for 2014. It was more of an anti-climactic tournament, there weren’t a lot of flagship moments to remember and Canada played a dominant puck possession game that left little drama. The gold medal game was on a Sunday morning Eastern time in North America around the time people get their morning coffee. However, Russian stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin got to play in their home country, although that result for them was a letdown.

Fast forward to 2018. The winter Olympics are going to be in Pyeonchang, South Korea. There are no star players from South Korea in the NHL that will push the NHL to allow them to go to the games like Ovechkin did in 2014. The time zone is totally at odds with what the NHL wants since it will be halfway around the world. Some might think that opening up the World Cup again is a sign that the NHL wants to disassociate itself with the Olympics, although keep in mind it wasn’t until 2013 that there was an agreement for the players to go to Sochi as well, so it isn’t as if they have to make up their mind tomorrow.

Yours truly says here that the NHL abandoning the Olympics is a bad idea. First off, it’s good for the game. Secondly, while 2018 isn’t a prime location for the NHL and it looks like 2022 won’t be either, the truth is 2026 will be. Hear me out for a second. The games are in Asia in 2018 and even then Tokyo has the Summer Games in 2020. What the International Olympic Committee (IOC) usually does is alternate the games between continents rather evenly. Recent history has suggested this. The 2022 Winter Games will be in either Beijing, China or Almaty, Kazakstan. That’s all since Oslo pulled out recently. Chances are Almaty will get the games since it is a European country and the IOC usually tries to give Europe, Asia and North America the games one after another, and once in a while they slide South America in there which they’ll do in Brazil in 2016 for the Summer Games or Sydney, Austrailia in 2000.

So what does this mean? It means that a European country gets the games in 2022 and there is a good chance the Summer Games go to the perennial loser in Toronto in 2024 – finally. It also means the Winter games will shift back to North America since by 2026 there wouldn’t have been the Winter Games here since 2010. The way the pattern usually goes with host cities, this is a likely occurrence. So it means the 2026 Winter Games are probably in North American soil again. Maybe Denver throws their hat into the ring. Perhaps Calgary or Lake Placid give a shot at it again. Who knows, but would the NHL want to denounce themselves from the Winter Games only to blow a glorious opportunity to have their preferred time slot and location? It says here they shouldn’t, and while I love the World Cup every 4 years or so, there isn’t a reason why we can’t have the Olympic games that often as well.

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