Many fans were disappointed after not seeing their favorite NHL players in the 2018 Winter Olympics hosted in Pyeongchang, South Korea. NHL players and coaches also resonated with the sentiments of the fans. The Olympics has always been considered a place where the best of the best should play. But since the league has already announced back in April 4, 2017 that they were not going to participate in the Pyeongchang Games, it’s best to understand why they came to such a conclusion. Here are the top 6 reasons why there are no NHL players in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
1. Nothing Changes Even with Olympic Participation
According to league officials, the NHL gains nothing significant from playing in the Olympics. While many may argue that giving the NHL an Olympic spotlight will help grow the sport, the league has announced that prior Olympic appearances have not changed the visibility of the NHL in terms of TV ratings and merchandise sales.
This does not mean to say that the NHL is not interested in growing recognition internationally. It is, but the league believes they can do this on their own. It has already arranged games for Germany, Sweden, as well as Finland in 2018 and 2019. The league has also already announced that it has preseason games to be held in China. Coincidentally, China is hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022 so fans might just expect the re-appearance of NHL players by that time.
2. Olympic Participation Disturbs the NHL Season
If the NHL did push through with participating in the Olympics this year, it would mean shutting down operations for 17 days. This would affect business operations according to the league. In previous Olympic game appearances, some NHL teams have reported reduced walk-up ticket sales.
3. Fear of Injured Players
Injury can make or break a player or a team’s chance of getting to the playoffs. There have been instances in the past where players have been injured in the Olympic Games and have subsequently lost NHL games. These players include Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit Red Wings, John Tavares of the New York Islanders, and even Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers.
4. Bad Blood with the Olympic Games
The NHL has never been satisfied with how they were treated at the Olympic Games. Although the NHL has consecutively supplied NHL players for five Olympic Games straight, the league had no rights to show the video highlights on its website.
5. Issues Between Time Zones
While the issue of time zones may be unreasonable for some, the league doesn’t see it beneficial to send their players to South Korea when the players would be competing in games that would be shown live at 7 in the morning or 10 in the evening.
6. Money is Ultimately Involved
Ultimately, money has to be involved in one of the reasons the NHL refused participation in the Pyeongchang games. According to the league, it would be a financial gamble to send NHL players to the Olympics where they might come back with an injury and when the North American audience only seem to have a lukewarm interest in the games held in South Korea.
While NHL players and coaches alike have expressed their disappointments with the league’s decision, the show must go on. This decision only gave way for amateur prospects to be brought into the spotlight in the Olympic Games. Some of the names that stood out include Eeli Tolvanen, Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Donato, and Rasmus Dahlin.