No Winter Olympics for the NHL
It is official; the National Hockey League (NHL) will not be taking part in the in the 2018 Winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang. The NHL announced that it would finalise its 2017/2018 season without taking a Winter Games break. It has officially declared all negotiations closed at this point.
The radical statement issued by the NHL this week ends years of negotiations between the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the NHL and the International Olympic Committee. The talking point in these negotiations was primarily the league’s on going participation in the Winter Olympic Games.
According to the NHL, they are unhappy about potentially being shut down for three weeks, smack bang in the middle of their regular season. The NHL has also been seeking recognition from the Olympic committee comparable to that of the top Olympic sponsor for playing a major role in the South Korea Games.
Up until now, the NHL has participated in every winter Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano. The decision for the NHL not to participate will have a major impact on just about every Ice hockey playing nation. Countries like Russia, the USA, Canada, Sweden and Finland have teams that are made up mostly of NHL players.
According to the NHL’s Players Association (NHLPA), the teams are disappointed and completely disagree with the NHL’s decision. For the players, any inconvenience caused by the Olympics is a small price to pay for the opportunity to showcase their talents on an international stage. The absence of the NHL at the Olympics will be a major blow to the event where Ice Hockey usually pulls in top ratings.
A Short Sighted Decision
According to the NHLPA, the decision was short sighted with the NHL losing on the opportunity to showcase themselves to a wider market. The NHLPA feels that the decision not to participate will certainly impede the growth of the league and the opportunity to reach sports fans on a global scale.
From their point of view, the NHL said they had become extremely frustrated with the inaction of the Olympic Committee. According to them, the IOC have put them in a position where their participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned by their participation in South Korea now in 2018. In an effort to create clarity, the NHL have proceeded to finalise the 2017/2018 regular season schedule and conserved the matter of the Winter Olympics closed.
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