The Sports Xchange
Posted with permission from The Sports Xchange
The NHL announced Monday that it will not participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which are being held in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The NHL had sent players to the past five Winter Olympics starting with the Nagano Games in 1998. The league is the only major professional sport to interrupt its schedule for the Olympics and released a lengthy statement to explain its decision.
"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 International Olympic Committee, the IIHF, the NHLPA) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject.
"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."
Following the Turin Games in 2006, former Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider said he did not see the value in sending NHL players overseas due to the time difference that prevented fans from seeing the games in primetime. It was not an issue for the Vancouver Games in 2010 but discussions intensified before the Sochi Games in 2014.
In 2014, the IOC agreed to cover the players' insurance and travel costs, which were approximately $14 million. In advance of the 2018 games, the IOC refused to cover costs.
Another issue for owners was seeing New York Islanders star forward John Tavares seriously injured while playing for Team Canada in Sochi.
Additionally, the NHL also asked The NHL Players' Association to guarantee it would not opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement. The players declined to extend the agreement to 2022, saying they did not think they should give anything up in exchange for participating in the Olympics.
The decision may have an impact in the 2022 Beijing Games. Last week, the NHL announced it will schedule a pair of exhibition games in China.