The year 2014 draws nearer with each passing day. And the question still remains: Will the NHL send its players to Sochi, Russia to participate in the 2014 Olympic Games?
The 2010 Canadian gold winning team featured a lineup made up solely of NHLers.
As did those of the United-States, the silver medal winners. The top two teams consisted of NHLers, with no other leagues involved in the selection of their players. There was only one league to look to for the the best players in the world. Without NHL players at the Olympics, would the gold medal given to the winner of the men’s hockey final even be valid? It could always be argued that a different country would have won if their best players were not in the NHL.
The NHL owners and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman are against participation of the players at the Olympics for obvious reasons. The players could sustain injuries, it will be too late at night for most North Americans to watch.. etc.
But what Gary Bettman does not understand is that the players are not waiting for the NHL to okay their participation in the Olympics. Russian stars such as Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have already verbally committed to playing for the men’s hockey team in their home country during the Olympics, NHL permissive or not.
The NHL needs to participate in the Olympics. Besides being forced to suspend several star players for skipping games, they will lose much of their European fan base that they have so diligently tried to build. Beginning a season in Europe will mean nothing if they do not prove to the fans that they are serious about building the NHL across the pond.
They will also lose a valuable marketing opportunity. When else can you sell Team Canada Jersey’s for such a large profit, and at such large quantities? I am willing to bet many Canadians would stay up late to watch their national men’s team play in the Olympics, on TSN or CBC.
If the NHL decides not to participate in Sochi, they can additionally wave goodbye to all the new fans they would have gained during the Olympics. The hockey that is played during the Olympics is the best hockey in the world and many new fans are enticed into watching it.
The NHL would be making a huge mistake if they decided not to send their players to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. It would be a mistake that they might never recover from.