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The NHL must allow players to compete at the Olympics

The NHL should let players play in the Olympics.
Roar Rookie
10th December, 2016
3

The NHL’s Board of Governors, a group made up of team owners and the commissioner of the league, held a meeting this week in Palm Beach, Florida.

An ironically warm place for the league’s stakeholders to meet in the midst of a cold northern winter, but with the latest expansion out of the Las Vegas desert, I guess irony is easily clouded by short-term cash.

Other than that, I’ll leave my opinion on the NHL’s expansion strategy into stinking hot, ‘new markets’ as they like to call them, for another day and instead stick to the board’s ridiculous opposition to the Olympic Games to next be held in South Korea in 2018.

The crux of their argument of course revolves around cash. The International Olympic Committee has in the past fitted the bill for the cost of travel, insurance and accommodation for players and their guests. But as of this point in time, they’ve unfortunately refused to do so for South Korea 2018.

I don’t think that anyone would argue it’s unreasonable for the owners, who pay the players’ wages week in week out, to want to have some say around protecting their contracted assets. Players go away from their club commitments on international duty and if they come back injured or fatigued, then it’s up to the clubs alone to fit the bill for rehab, lost income and most importantly lost points while their stars aren’t able to contribute on the ice.

But when the NHL sets up their own pre-season, mock international tournament featuring only players from their own domestic league and call it ‘the world cup of hockey’ then surely it’s a bit rich to be complaining about this.

I’m not even going to give the tournament capitalisation, because it’s nothing more than a money-making fraud designed to rip off a North American fan-base who are used to being told they are the centre of the sporting universe. How the NHL are even allowed to call this tournament a ‘world cup’ is completely beyond me.

Ask any hockey player, whether in the NHL or the plethora of other domestic leagues littered around the world, what the pinnacle of international hockey is and they will all tell you it’s the Olympic Games. Likewise the commercial value that the NHL gains from marketing their best players on the world stage in a prime time Asian timeslot to a global audience is invaluable and something their own mock world cup can’t replicate.

I know it’s 2016 and the opinion of fans doesn’t even come into the discussion, but common sense has to prevail here and the NHL must allow their players to compete at the Olympic Games.

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Obviously it’s in the best interest of the NHL, the NHLPA and the IOC to all come to some sort of agreement regarding who fits which bill so the Olympic hockey tournament goes ahead at full strength.