Sure, hockey is a big thing for those who follow the NHL but on the international stage, it does not get much publicity. And then once every 4 years, the Winter Olympics comes along and the gold medal for men’s hockey seems to be the most popular event.
With the NHL’s biggest stars representing their country, it truly is a treat to see the best of the best face-off in the biggest sporting event in the world. Although a few countries always seem to take home the coveted gold medal, more and more countries are beginning to participating and starting up hockey programs of their own which brings more awareness and attention to this great sport.
All of that could be changing for the 2018 Winter Olympics. A deal has not yet been made between the NHL , the NHLPA and the International Olympic Committee and it seems as though it may never happen. NHL players have been active in the past 5 Winter Games.
Besides the fact that the NHL has to shut down for 2 weeks, there are endless costs associated with sending its players away to play. The IIHF says that it can find the money to fund any out- of -pocket expenses that they may endure which counters the argument from the NHL about it being too expensive, but that does not seem to be swaying the league.
Last week the NHLPA rejected the offer from the NHL to participate in the 2018 Winter Games in exchange for an extension to their current bargaining agreement.The plan, if accepted, would have given permission for players to participate in Pyeongchang if they agreed to extend their contract by 3 years which would eliminate a potential opt-out clause in 2019.
Under the plan, the NHL would green light participation in the 2018 Games if the players agreed to extend the current contract by three years and eliminate a potential opt-out clause in the fall of 2019. Needles to say, this was not appealing to players and therefore, the conversation about this deal was short-lived. In reality, they would be getting the green light to play in exchange for no changes or improvements to their contracts for the next 9 seasons and it just wasn’t deemed worth it.
Players and fans alike are rooting for the NHL to once again be apart of the Olympics. Some may say that NHL not participating won’t affect hockey on the international level as much as we think it will and it will still be enjoyable , that may be true, but not having NHL players present is robbing hockey lovers everywhere of seeing the best this sport has to offer. The Olympics feature athletes in the top of their fields, and that is what the NHL is, the best hockey players in the world.
Forget the promotion of the game or even the enjoyment for the hockey lovers, the players themselves want to represent their countries and they shouldn’t be stripped of that right. Alexander Ovechkin has voiced his concerns on the matter and has even said that he will be participating regardless of the NHL’s final decision and it’s likely that he isn’t the only one to feel that way.
The Olympic games are less than 2 years away and it seems as though negotiations have hit a wall. Hopefully a decision can soon be reached and the world will once again get the chance to see the best hockey players in the world compete in the biggest atletic tournament in the world come 2018. There could be some light at the tunnel since the decision for the 2014 Winter Games was not made until July 2013, so there is still time. Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!