Skip to content

Poll: How upset would you be if the NHL pulled out of the Olympics?

Jul 30, 2012, 1:31 PM EDT

Canada wins gold in Vancouver Getty Images

Since the Olympics are on and all, we’d be remiss to not talk about the NHL’s participation in future games.

As it stands, there’s no guarantee the best players in the world will participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. First, the league and the players’ union have to decide if it’s worth their time, then an agreement needs to be struck with the IIHF and IOC.

The NHL’s Russian stars desperately want the chance to play at home in 2014, and if we had to guess, they’ll probably get it. Beyond that, however, it’s less clear. (The 2018 Winter Olympics are in Pyeongchang, South Korea.)

NHL owners have argued that participation in the games puts their players at risk of injury and disrupts the season. Of course, in return, they get “a good promotion for hockey in North America,” according to IOC president Jacques Rogge.

But what about when the Olympics are outside of North America and games are starting late at night or early in the morning for Americans and Canadians?

“In some places, the benefits are greater for the Olympic participation than others. When you’re in Vancouver or Salt Lake City and you’re in North American time zones and you’re getting that type of coverage, then you are getting coverage that may be commensurate with shutting down,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in 2010.

“When you’re halfway around the world, maybe the coverage isn’t as great.”

The alternative could be the return of the World Cup of Hockey – a tournament that’s played during the summer, in North America, and with proceeds to the league and players.

A World Cup wouldn’t be the Olympics, but remember that some of hockey’s most memorable international moments came outside of the Olympics, from the 1972 Summit Series to the Canada Cups to the inaugural World Cup in 1996 won by the United States.

So, we’ll put it to you…

  1. jrdarin - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    The Olympics are meant for amateur athletes to compete…that’s how it should be for all the sports where professional athletes participate in honestly. The NBA should pull out, as well as the NHL…have college players play instead…they’re are just as good. With golf coming to the Olympics in 2016, the PGA shouldn’t allow their pro’s to play either…just a thought.

    • sjshark714 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:33 PM

      from my perspective, not allowing professionals wouldn’t change the results. The countries with the best pros have the best amateurs as well. But we are lucky to be fans of a sport, which like soccer, is amazing when played on an international level because it can be anyone’s tournament to win. So why not let the best athletes in the world compete for their countries. 2010 was some of the most compelling hockey I have ever watched (being an American) and it would really suck not to get to see that again in 2014.

    • silverdeer - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      I disagree with your thoughts. The Olympics were created for the best athletes to compete. It was just the politics finally was convinced that athletes from the former Easter Bloc countries were professionals and that they just received their compensation in forms other than a paycheck and endorsement deals.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:41 PM

        100% agree. Why would anyone want to watch fourth or fifth-rate players? You’re watching below SPHL guys

    • xdatsyukx13 - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      The Winter Olympics have a lot of events that are big, but hockey is probably one of the biggest if not the biggest sport for the Olympics. I wouldn’t mind having a world cup of hockey,but i would want both that and the Winter Olympic hockey events to coexist. In my opinion, there should be a World Cup of Hockey, but instead have it every two years so that in between the Winter Olympic break (four years), we get some summer hockey to watch.

    • babykaby - Aug 4, 2012 at 5:09 AM

      What your thinking fails to recognize is that most of the players playing for the other countries are paid professional athletes as well. It’s not just paid professionals coming out of North America that are competing. Plus the athletes want to do it, so let thim. There is, afterall, such a thing as patriotic pride.

  2. capesouth - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Not against it.

  3. soj83 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    i’ll be a lot more upset if any part of this next season is lost

  4. sjsharks66 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    I would trade the Olympics for never having a lockout.

  5. jasol20 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Being so heavily invested in the NHL, I wouldn’t be all that bothered if NHLers weren’t participating in the Olympics. It would be a bummer not to see the best of the best when you do watch Olympic hockey, but it’s so infrequent anyway.

    One option that I think would be a reasonable compromise would limit the number of NHL players in the Olympics, and organize teams the same way Olympic men’s soccer is organized. Each team is an Under-23 team, allowed just 3 over-age players. It keeps the best of the best, but for the most part only within a certain age range, and those are the younger, more physically resilient players at least slightly less apt to get hurt anyway.

  6. ravenscaps48 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    I wouldn’t mind. I think some of the best hockey to watch is the IIHF U-20 Tournament in December and January… No NHLers there.

    • sjshark714 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      exactly, there already is a tournament for amateurs. and there’s the world cup or whatever but players who are still in the NHL playoffs don’t compete. without the olympics there is no competition where the best players in the world compete for their countries, and that would be a shame. The IIHF tourneys ARE awesome, and will continue, but what would be the point of just repeating that same tournament at the olympics?

      • ravenscaps48 - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:28 PM

        That being said… Let them play in the 2014 Games and end the agreement afterwards.

  7. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 30, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Hockey is the only thing I watch during the Olympics, I’d hate for it to go.

  8. t16rich - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    So would the Olympics essentially become the World Junior tournament? Or would we be watching 29 year old players from the ECHL? If they get rid of NHLers I hope they use young players instead of making it into some Spengler cup crap.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      That’s the way it used to be, fringe pros and players in NHL contract disputes (Lindros in 92, Nedved in 94) playing against every other countries professionals. Hopefully we don’t see that and if they do scrap the nhlers they instead eliminate the World Junior tournaments in those years and instead have those players at the Olympics, although that’s right before CHL leagues start their playoffs so I’m not sure how excited junior teams will be about it.

  9. goalieguy37 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    NHL players in the olympics is great for the game and great for the league.

    • pensfan1 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:27 PM

      I wasn’t aware the Olympics existed as an endorsement for the NHL. I agree with the earlier post that it should be for amateurs only. Anyone getting paid for a sport shouldn’t be there. As it is now, the Olympics are just another stop for skiing, hockey, soccer, swimming, cycling, etc. (pick your sport) with the same names you see every week in their seasons for things athletes normally do in anyway. It only becomes “special” because all of these “all star games” are happening in the same two week window and the only drama is when a country that does not have an athlete or team competes in one of these events and does well. Whether we admit it or not, we pull for the amateurs in a professional event.

      • nyrangersnation - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        It’s great for the league because non-hockey fans watch it and see these tremendous athletes. For instance, the league got some popularity due to the tremendous 2010 Olympics and the Gold Medal game between USA and Canada. I know a lot of people who never watched hockey but they’d come up to me in school wanting to talk about how exciting it was and how exciting hockey in general was and that they never realized it. It’s very much like playoff hockey so when you’ve got that you get people into it, then you keep it up with the playoffs.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

        Wow, so in your opinion, the Olympics are merely another event in the schedules of these incredible athletes, and that the best athletes in the world, at least the ones who get paid to do what they do, shouldn’t even be allowed to participate. You just sucked allllll the fun out of the Olympics. Way to go dude. I guess interview after interview with Olympic athletes stating how excited they are to be at the Olympics and all the effort they spent trying to get in is just their own contribution in building hype for corporate advertisers and TV ratings too.

      • mattryannolan - Jul 30, 2012 at 5:39 PM

        So that means almost every athlete at the Olympics shouldn’t be there because almost everyone is a paid professional. So yes sign me up to watch NOT the best in the world play in every sport. Bolt shouldn’t run for Jamaica because he’s paid. Phelps shouldn’t swim because he gets paid from endorsements. Every snowboarder shouldn’t snowboard cause they are sponsored. That makes no sense…. The best in the world should compete in the winter and summer Olympics, paid or not.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:44 PM

        This isn’t 1976, all the athletes are paid

  10. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    So long as they have a major tourney every 2-4 years that gives every pro player a chance to play rather than just those who got knocked out of the SCP. That’s about the only thing that fries my bacon about the IIHF tourney every year.

  11. homerx - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    I wish the Olympics was still for amateurs. With professionals competing from the likes of the NHL and NBA it’s just a big all-star tournament.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:42 PM

      Yeah it sucks watching the best in the world playing their hearts out for Olympic gold, eh?

  12. hitem396 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    HAHA what the hell….

    hockey is NOT NHLs. hockey is not for canada n USA.

    players were allowed to play in Vancouver n Salt Lake City olympics, and it was good. BUT if they arent allowed in Russia and S.Korea becuz there will be no benefits? shame on u, guys. dont act like NHL has all the hockey.

    players wanted to play in olympic, so they started this in Nagano, JAPAN 1998 olympic.

    if they dont play in russia and korea later, why were allowed in japan at first? ( even though asia was not good for hockey)

    • sjshark714 - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      horrendous grammar but I agree. The players in the NHL want to play for their countries (and if they don’t they don’t have to and get a few weeks off). Why would we ever deprive them of that, and why would we ever deprive ourselves of getting to watch it?

  13. mnhockeyfan - Jul 30, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    There’s a chance that removing NHLers from the Olympics would put a new emphasis on the World Cup, but I doubt that players from teams that go deep into the playoffs or need medical treatments in the summer would play. It would still be marginal at best.

    I have to laugh at the comments about the games taking place in other time zones – as we’ve seen this summer, NBC doesn’t show any events live.

    • babykaby - Aug 4, 2012 at 4:57 AM

      They live stream via their website all day long. It’s live on line, they just hold off on TV till primetime in most instances.

  14. ethanmacleod - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    The Olympics are supposed to be for the World’s top athletes, as in professionals not amateurs.

  15. sigep316 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Would hate it if they pulled out of olympics. Some of the most exciting games in recent memory have been the medal games in the olympics with NHL players!

  16. chazxcore - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I would be very upset if the NHL wasn’t involved. It brings in more fans to the NHL as well as hockey in general. Especially with the expanded coverage with NBC, you could watch just about every game.

  17. shilo221 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    I am an avid hockey fan and have been playing since I was 4 (28 now) you I love the sport. I watched the last few Olympics religiously. When the pros play the NHL loses (especially if it’s outside north America) you but the fans always win. It doesn’t matter where in the world the Olympics are now because of the DVR/tivo a game could be at 3am my time and I can always watch the next day. You’re not going to see this level of play with amatures, every game is like an all star game where they actually try and it means something if the NHLers don’t play I’ll still follow and wish my country the best but I probably won’t be watching much until the medal games

    • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      I find the NHL games faster, rougher and more exciting. Personally I thought the olympic games were over hyped.

  18. hockeyfan1701 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    When the Winter Olympics were on everyone at work was coming to me with hockey questions. They were asking about players, teams, etc. That tells me that the exposure is great for the NHL. Do not blow this.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      Precisely, especially for Americans. Americans do not care about the IIHF tourney, the WJC, the U-18 tourney or any other int’l tournament out there, and this is coming from a Minnesotan. They do, however, pay attention for the Olympics, and if they took out the pros, the NHL would actually lose because they’d lose the exposure they have now by keeping their players in the WO. The NHL needs whatever exposure it can get, and the Olympics is helping them out.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        The NHL makes plenty of money. They don’t need the exposure. Let the americans watch football and leave hockey to us. It’s not in danger of folding. That “good for the league crap” is just and excuse to force a hockey market in the desert.

  19. credible316 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I thought the olympics were to award the best in the world?
    I also love putting NHL players in the olympics because it’s so diverse making multiple countries legit contenders for the gold.

  20. redwingsfan999 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    I love watching the Olympics and seeing the players get a chance 2 represent there country, fans and players all around the world would be angry

  21. sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    I would prefer if the players didn’t compete in the olympics. I like North American hockey. Not internation hockey with it’s big rink. I prefer the forced confrontation of the little rink. The faster pace. I don’t think the league needs help promoting itself. It’s still the biggest sport in Canada, and not in fear of folding. Why do we constantly need to push and push to try to make it the biggest sport in the world? We’re still going to have the best in the world no matter how popular the sport is world wide. I never watch a game and think “damn this is good, but these players would be even better if this sport was more popular accross the globe”. I hate that the NHL takes a break for the olympics. I could care less who wins gold. The IOC is a corrupt self glorifying croc anyway. Their sole concern is making money for themselves and preserving their global image. Not to mention if players get hurt in the olympics if hurts their team, and they don’t get compensation. Furthermore, the GMs and owners have difficulty accessing players once they’ve become part of the olympics. These are their players that they have under contract. I totally understand why the league doesn’t want any part in this crap, and I hope they pull out for good.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      You make some good points, particularly about the corruption and self-interest of the IOC. However, without the Olympics, there is no major int’l tournament that bring in all of the best in the world. If they had one, I wouldn’t mind if they took out the pros in the Olympics. As it stands though, there’s no other options and seemingly nothing in the works otherwise.

      The other advantage to having pros in the WO is that people are already watching the WO, with all its TV coverage and pomp. With a separate tournament, the average joe would probably have to have cable TV, and chances are it’ll be in summer, out of the way of the NHL season, when hockey is least in the collective consciousness of most Americans. I know I’d watch but would regular folks go out of their way to watch or even set their DVRs? I think it would be doubtful. Just my thoughts.

      • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        I understand what you’re saying, but I really don’t feel the need to try to get an average joe to watch hockey. If he doesn’t want to watch hockey who cares? There are more than enough people who love the game and watch it to keep the league running. The average joe can stick to his football, and leave the hockey to the real fans. Do we really need hockey to be so popular that we can sustain a market in the desert? Wouldn’t it be fine if we just added some more Canadian teams and said to hell with the people who don’t like it? Anyway, that’s the way I feel about it.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 31, 2012 at 1:54 AM

      I find it’s hard to disagree with most of your points. I guess my only last point is that, personally, I love seeing the best players in the world play for a major championship for their respective nations. Yes, we get that with the WJCs and U-18s and such, but to see the best is something else. I’m fine with the pros leaving the Olympics as long as there’s another option to see them all play together, which hasn’t officially been brought up yet. I enjoy the spirit of the WO, and hockey just fits as its centerpiece; as fun as the other sports are, they’re just filler between games for me. I’d still watch amateur hockey if that’s what they change it to but I don’t think it’ll be the same, depending on which amateurs are playing.

  22. jpat2424 - Jul 30, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Love it. Let the amateurs play.

  23. bagjr387 - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    since the same 8 teams have won medals since like the beginning of time, IMO it could drop out and most wouldnt care…not much better than basketball i the olympics…same team on top every year

  24. tangfan - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    the Saudi Arabian team is heavily favored in 2014, so the us and Canadian teams are going to need the NHL players

    • capsrockva - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:41 PM

      really I don’t think so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! get off the koolaid

  25. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 30, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    If they pull the NHL out of it they should pull mike phelps out of swimming in the summer Olympics..he’s professional right? Best athletes in the best stage, and that’s the way it should be!

    • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:31 PM

      He’s not under contract by the american swimming league. NHL players are.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:46 PM

        he receives substantial compensation from endorsers and is compensated by USA swimming….that’s a professional

      • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM

        Yes, but he’s not under contract to a professional sports organization during the olympics. NHL players are.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:41 PM

        that’s not what qualifies you as a professional; compensation for performance of a sport does

      • sunderlanding - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:48 PM

        Maybe you could take a second to reread my post. I never disputed the fact that they were professional. We all know that. They are under contract, and therefore belong to the NHL. It’s their decision, and I totally understand why they wouldn’t want to put their players in the olympics. Pheleps situation is different as he is not under contract. Therefore your comparison is inacurate.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:01 PM

        My fault for using the correct definition of a word

  26. jmbates10 - Jul 30, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    The Olympics are supposed to be for amateurs, that should answer the question. Like others, I’d gladly exchange the Olympics for no lock-out.

  27. bcjim - Jul 30, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Not only would I not be upset, I’d love it. I really hate the disruption in the season. I just don’t care about Olympic hockey.

  28. capsrockva - Jul 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Olympic hockey games in 2010 was some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen. I hope that the NHL does the right thing and I hope the CBA does come before the season starts

  29. pariseinminnesotabichez - Jul 31, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    I would be pretty upset because USA is getting revenge!!!

  30. jelliot1978 - Jul 31, 2012 at 1:28 AM

    What about ratings competition? If the NHL is not going to allow its players into the Olympics it means you will see them competing against them for viewers. Now a lot of you say that the NHL doesn’t need more fans but that is just a cop out. The more fans, more money. More money increases the league in other aspects. Hockey is a global game, so is basketball but see what 92 did for basketball? Now you have teams able to compete with the US with better players. Better players means better hockey. If the NHL backs out then they lessen the advancement of the game. The players want it, so look for this to be part of the CBA talks.

  31. babykaby - Aug 4, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    I think the players enjoy it, so they should be allowed to play for their country. Every night during the season, players from other countries must stand and listen to the US and Canadien anthems being played because they have chosen to play for North American teams, it must be nice to occassionally get to hear your own countries anthem and represent them. Nobody forces these players to play in the Olympics, so it must be something they truly want to do. Why make them stop? They might get injured? Less likely to get injured in the Olympics than by head hunting Bruins.

  32. pissweed - Aug 6, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    I’m curious to know how the professional NHL players would feel about being told that they can’t represent their own country.Especially when the Olympics has been built on the BEST OF THE BEST of the WHOLE WORLD competing against one another. Like a few others have mentioned, some of the NHL players should be able to jump on the chance to skate on their native soil again. Especially if that’s the same soil that aided them in there journey to becoming a professional NHL player. In a sense it would be kind of disrespectful for the NHL to pull out of the Olympics. I hope all that made sense!

Featured video

Chances Blue Jackets bounce back?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. T. Oshie (3013)
  2. D. Backes (2808)
  3. M. Duchene (2584)
  4. R. Getzlaf (2287)
  5. B. Bishop (2250)
  1. S. Mason (2208)
  2. O. Palat (2162)
  3. H. Zetterberg (1769)
  4. N. MacKinnon (1703)
  5. R. Emery (1528)