Why NHLers have to go back to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games...
On February 24, 2014, Dobber commented in the Ramblings about the NHL’s participation in the Olympics and hopes that they do not continue to do so in the future.
He made comments about the injuries to players and not being able to share the experience with family and friends because of the time-zone difference.
DobberHockey members commented about the injuries being a factor no matter what time of year. To illustrate that point, Eric Johnson hurt himself on September 23, 2008 playing a round of golf. He tore his ACL and MCL while driving a golf cart. Because of that he missed the whole 2008-09 season.
The members also commented about the time-zone difference/watching the games in prime time. If Dobber were to move to Japan, the UK or Australia in the future would Dobber expect the games to follow his time-zone too? The members did a good job at breaking this argument down.
Others have commented that the NHL shouldn’t bend to the will of the Olympic committee, saying that none of the other leagues do. Well that isn’t exactly true. Basketball doesn’t have the schedule conflict, baseball isn’t an Olympic sport at the moment and football doesn’t even come close. Only one sport is affected similarly like hockey, that being soccer. I’ll get back to this later.
The focus isn’t really on those items as it is that Dobber feels that a World Cup is better suited to fit the NHL’s (and its fans) needs instead of the Olympics. Suggesting that a tournament staged in early/mid-September would be a better option.
First, there is the issue of players not being in game shape. Not that they will not be ready to play but they will not be at their peak like they would be during the middle of the season, or even like at playoff time. So we would see the best versus the best but not at their best.
Second, there are limits to how much time players are to give in preparation of these special tournaments and the cost of insurance too. The Players Association would have to approve how much time players have to give up to their national teams and would the cost of insurance be shared equally among NHLPA and NHL teams? This was an issue in going to Sochi and I do not see how it is avoided here either. The only difference was that the NHL/NHLPA was asking the IOC to foot all or some of the costs.
Third, would the World Cup be always staged in the Eastern time-zone? Should I even ask if it would be always held in Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor? That doesn’t seem fair to those fans out in the west coast or even to fans not in those cities who would want to see the games in person.
Fourth, what else is going on in September? Oh yeah, football season has started up and baseball season is in the pennant races. It doesn’t seem like an optimal time to run a World Cup when many people in the States have their fantasy sports attention on football and baseball pools. I am not going to even figure out if there is a conflict with golf or car racing.
Fifth, someone else brought this up as a comment, how many national teams are entered and who decides which nations are not represented in the World Cup? Is it based on the number of NHL players on each squad or on some other rankings? Cause maybe the World Cup in September cuts into the KHL or a European league season. Not everything is run on the NHL’s timeline.
There is a solution and it is to stay in the Olympics but alter things slightly, the way soccer does. Make the teams enter under 23 teams or something similar. I do not care where the cut off age is set at, but set it so that the youngsters are the ones playing in the Olympics. Have each team automatically release those players for their national teams with no restrictions. Then allow the NHL schedule to continue as the Olympics are unfolding.
The Olympics would change from one country/time-zone to another based on the IOC selection vote. The games will be held in the winter time which is when the players are at their best. The NHL schedule could be relaxed a little bit but we wouldn’t have a two week idle period and the NHL would continue to receive exposure in front of the whole world during the same time. It would be like having a second world junior tournament but with slightly older players.
The NHL should stay in the Olympics.