The NHL Board of Governors doesn’t feel that NHL participation in the Olympic Games does anything positive for the sport and the league. It shuts down the regular season in February, the month that the NHL pretty much has a monopoly on televised team sports with no football or baseball, and star players can get hurt, with seven NHL players injured at the last Games in Sochi. Last December the NHL says it polled fans in Canada and 53% were against the league taking a break for the Olympics even though Canada would be defending the Gold Medal.
I would have voted with the 47%. The NHL believes that while the International Olympic Committee has reaped rewards from NHL participation, the league has not seen any increase in ratings or sales, which reminds me it’s all about money. Now they say even players who have two-way NHL contracts and playing in the minors will not be allowed to go to the Olympics. Players who only have a minor league contract can go if their team allows it, as can players signed to NHL deals but who are playing in Europe because they are on loan and not playing under their NHL contracts. Canada’s Olympic hockey team will be mostly made up of guys who play for a living outside of North America, perhaps similar to the team we field at the annual Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland. The Russians will probably win the Gold Medal with a KHL all-star team perhaps bolstered by a couple of defiant rogues from the NHL. If you’re like me and love fast-paced, skilled, no-fighting Olympic hockey when the worlds very best compete, it’s a shame the next Olympic hockey tournament just won’t be the same.