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GREAT NEWS: NHL Players are OUT of the 2018 Olympics! BUT NOT for the Right Reasons!

The news sounded so good I pondered a victory lap (from NHL.com):

“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 (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject,” the NHL said in a statement. “A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

YAY!  No Sports Imperialism in Hockey in the next Olympic cycle (or maybe 2022 as well!) but it was not for the right reasons.  I am skeptical; perhaps this is a walk away from the new car you really want to get a better deal that my dad used to suggest.

The usual tweets came out almost immediately (my comments below):

From Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun:

Department of We Don’t Care About The Game or our Fans: NHL not sending players to the Olympics in South Korea.

Maybe, Steve, you should ask:  Does pro hockey players improve the game in the Olympics?  What about those nations who can’t have a bunch of NHL players – like maybe Brazil?  Don’t they play the game?  Don’t their fans count?

Michael Castillo writes for FanSided:

The only people on the planet who don’t want the NHL at the Olympics are the owners. Literally 30 dudes in the entire world against it.

Sorry Michael:  Add me to the list and I am too poor to own a hockey franchise.  Ask around – there are a lot others.

Castillo doubles down with this:

Looking forward to 41-year-old Chris Drury captaining Team USA in the Olympics with a bunch of college kids. Really exciting tbh.

Maybe Drury is the next Herb Brooks.  At least kids around the world who play hockey will, to paraphrase Coach Brooks, get to dream again.

Henrik Lundqvist is the goaltender for the NY Rangers:

Disappointing news, won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..

Maybe the game will market better with underdog teams from smaller nations now with a real, genuine chance to medal.

And in the “it takes the cake department”, here is Brandon Prust, former NHL player now on a German pro hockey team:

1 of the best hockey moments I’ve ever seen in my life was Canada vs USA gold medal game 2010 .. Crosby ot winner.

I suppose you have not seen the Miracle of Ice!  (Prust was too young to see it in person of course but I missed that game, too!  But we know what happens!)

I do find this stat interesting from the NHL website:

The NHL conducted polls in both Canada and the United States to determine if fans were in favor of the League taking a break in February to allow players to compete in the Olympics. In the United States, 73 percent said they were not in favor. In Canada, it was 53 percent against the break.

Sorry they did not ask this question:  Do you really want pros in the Olympics?

But the reason is not principle but money and fear of injury:

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) had been paying for the League’s participation costs associated with travel, insurance and accommodations for the players and their guests, but told the NHL it will not continue to pay for those costs for the 2018 tournament.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel indicated his federation had the money to cover those costs, but Commissioner Bettman said there was concern the funds would come from assets that would otherwise be used to grow the game at the grassroots level.

In addition, Commissioner Bettman has said that many teams have been concerned about the impact Olympic participation has on the NHL season in terms of player injuries and the compressed schedule created by the break in February.

The injury fear is real BUT how many athletes in the non-sports imperialism days begged to play in the Games even hurt?

All I can say is:  It’s great news but I’ll believe it when I see it and I’ll see it (Lord willing!) in 2018!  I still think it is a negotiating ploy to get more money for the NHL team owners.  But if you choose, send a POLITE note to the NHL urging them to stand for the right and not give in to Sports Imperialism.  Here’s the contact page for the NHL.

 

 

 

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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