Every four years the greatest athletes from across the world taking the world stage at the Olympics. NHL players for years have always taken great pride in the opportunity to take a break from the NHL game and get a chance to go represent their nation. Many like the idea of the best professionals in the world going to represent their country in the Olympics, however some feel it should be amateurs only in the Olympics just like how it was originally.
The NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman announced that it would not be participating in this years’ PyeongChang Olympics, which will be the first time in five Olympics that the NHL won’t participate.
Gary Bettman who has been NHL Commissioner since 1993 released a statement saying, “We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject.”
The reasons for the NHL not participating in the Olympics is that it disrupts the NHL season (as they have to take a break in the middle of the season) and it leads to the possibility of players getting injured. The NHL also argues that it has no positive impact on the business of the NHL, so from a business perspective it has no positive outcome.
Some would argue that the NHL players playing in the Olympics would give it good publicity and in result get more people interested in the league, however the NHL disputes that.
Many also say that the Olympics when it started always had amateur players and that is the way that it should be. As the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” US Olympic Coach Herb Brooks said, “The US began using professional athletes at the games, dream teams. I always found that term ironic because now that we have dream teams, some will never get to dream,” just as his team did in 1980 when the US had one of the greatest upsets in sports history in defeating the Soviet Union. The 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” is considered to be the greatest moment in sports by many.
The arguments for the players playing in the Olympics is that fans want to be able to see the best players in the world represent their countries and watch the players that they know and love. When you have the biggest worldwide sporting event, you should have the very best athletes playing in it.
Many of the players in the NHL feel they have been wronged because they are not being allowed to represent their country just because they are professional. It’s as if the league is saying you have accomplished to much so you can’t compete in the Olympics, your career should be solely the NHL.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist who has won a gold and silver medal in the Olympics for Sweden and a gold medal and two silver medal in the World Hockey Championship made a statement against the NHL decision regarding the NHL in the Olympics. Lundqvist tweeted out saying, “Disappointing news, NHL won’t be part of the Olympics in 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage wasted.”
Regardless of where you stand on this issue the Olympics will go on and opening ceremonies are set for Friday, February 9th. The hockey however won’t start on the opening day of the Olympics as the United States first game is February 14th against Slovenia.