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NHL, NHLPA taking wait-and-see approach to 2018 Winter Olympics

Jul 22, 2013, 2:12 PM EDT

Pyeongchang Getty Images

Could the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, be the last time NHL players participate in the Games for the foreseeable future?

It may not be the most pressing question at the moment — the next Winter Olympics after Sochi are in 2018, hosted by Pyeongchang, South Korea — but there are reasons to believe the answer may be yes.

For now, the NHL says it’s taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We specifically avoided negotiating over or committing to Olympic participation beyond the 2014 Sochi Games,” wrote deputy commissioner Bill Daly in an email to PHT. “It’s our joint intention (NHL and NHLPA) to assess the experience in Sochi before even considering whether to continue with Olympic participation going forward.”

The NHLPA concurred with Daly’s statement in a separate email.

Why might 2018 be a no-go for NHLers? Here are three big reasons:

—- Pyeongchang isn’t in North America. Here’s commissioner Gary Bettman in 2010: “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. When you’re halfway around the world, maybe the coverage isn’t as great.”

—- South Korea isn’t even a hockey nation. You’ll recall that much of the push for NHL participation in Sochi came from Russian players who wanted the opportunity to play for a gold medal at home — especially after the country’s disappointing performance in 2010. For obvious reasons, there won’t be that kind of push for Pyeongchang. The host of the 2022 Games has yet to be announced, but it’s not expected it will be held in North America.

—- The World Cup. There’s talk it could be reborn as an alternative to the Olympics — one that would be controlled and sanctioned by the NHL and NHLPA, cutting out the IIHF and IOC. While there’s certainly much to be said for the Olympic experience, 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 that was won by the United States.

  1. bensawesomeness - Jul 22, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Realistically not a bad decision. If it doesn’t work right- the time zones, the playing times, all the things the NHL was worried about- doesn’t work out, then yeah, don’t do it in South Korea

    Russia made sense, a ton of the NHL’s stars (Datsyuk, Ovi, Malkin, even a potential up-and-comer in Bob) on the biggest stage outside of the Finals.

    Looking forward the tournament

  2. joey4id - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    I think this is selfish BS. Where is the spirit of participation? The Olympic Games are the leading international sporting event featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. Period!

    • somekat - Jul 22, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      The IOC is also a totally corrupt organization that has been caught cheating time and time again (like the Russian judge that refused to give a good score because she agreed not to before it started), reward the games to a city based on only 1 “merit”, who pays the selection committee the most.

    • valoisvipers - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      I totally agree that it us selfish and self serving for the NHL not to take part in other Olympics but ah Bettman will be Bettman.

  3. jimw81 - Jul 22, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    i think sochi is the last time nhl gets involved in olympics just like london was nba’s last olympics.

  4. kicksave1980 - Jul 23, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    I can understand the love for NHL’ers in the Olympics, because I love both the Olympics and the NHL. But honestly, I really loved the Canada Cup/World Cup, and I miss that competition. I also used to love watching amateur hockey players in the Olympics. If this is indeed the last Olympics with NHL representation, hopefully we can get a World Cup every 4 years. If memory serves correctly, the 96 WC was played in the Summer, which is a positive because you don’t have the break in the season.

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