Yesterday, in what we all thought to be a bluff, became a reality. The NHL announced that they will not be sending their players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Now I’ve heard all the reasons as to why on sports TV and Radio and I’m going to go through and tell you why it’s all a bunch of bullshit and it all came down to money between two very greedy groups of rich old men.
Why The NHL Fucked Up
The NHL, is all about growing their game. They said that’s why they brought back the World Cup and that’s why Gary Bettman announced last week in front of an empty arena that the NHL will host a couple games in China next season. Asia represents a market of over 1.5 Billion people in which the NHL has left untapped forever. It is a bigger market than North America, where the NHL lives and dies. The NBA has flourished there and the NFL and MLB have seen success there as well. I really don’t know what took the NHL so long to get over there, other than stupidity and ignorance, because even the KHL has put a team in Beijing. I don’t even think the KHL has been around for 10 years, yet they were smart enough to try out Asia.
So you know what would a great way, and possibly the best way, to introduce your sport and your players to the Asian market? BY GOING TO THE FUCKING OLYMPICS BEING HELD IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING ASIA!! That would be the perfect way to build a buzz in Asia and China, because guess what? The 2022 Winter Games are in fucking Beijing! So instead of launching an entire marketing & operational plan to grow your game and make some good coin, the NHL is going to say “fuck it, we don’t need you”…..oh but you do.
I heard Bettman on radio saying shit like: it stops the schedule, compresses the schedule, risks of injury etc.……So then wtf were you negotiating all this time? Those don’t seem like negotiable topics. So why even negotiate? Just say “hey guys, this doesn’t bode well for our league and players, it isn’t feasible anymore” and end of discussion. BUT I have a feeling that if the IOC or IIHF paid the insurance premiums of these NHL players (which they don’t do for anyone else, not even NBA) then all those things about the scheduling and injuries become irrelevant, because the same problems occurred from the World Cup, but that was a success in Bettman’s eyes (LOL). Thats what this is about, MONEY! Bettman also had the balls to say that “the Olympics has not been a benefit to our game”.…are you high, little man? In Canada we are flooded with Hockey, but not in the states. There are some markets in the states where fucking high school basketball gets more time on the Sports Shows than the NHL does. But guess what kind of hockey dominates all the sports shows? Olympic Hockey every 4 years! I’d bet a quarterfinal Olympic hockey game gets more viewers globally than the World Cup final got, but the key here is that the NHL doesn’t profit from the Olympics…again keep up with the money theme. This wasn’t Bettman’s individual decision, he works for and represents the owners. This was the Owners decision.
Pro Tip: Never feel sorry for a rich man saying something is too expensive
What Happens Next
International Federations: For those who personally know me, know I hold credibility in what I’m about to say. During the World Cup of Hockey a top Finish exec from the governing hockey body in Finland (Our Hockey Canada) sat down with Bill Daly and told him that if the NHL does not go to the Olympics, Finland with not participate in the next World Cup. Now whether they stick to their guns on that, I don’t know. But I guarantee you that conversation was had, and something countries like Sweden, Czech Republic and Russia supported. Those countries don’t give a fuck about the World Cup, their fans don’t give a fuck about the World Cup, they don’t even give a fuck about the Stanley Cup. For those countries, Olympic Gold, or any Olympic Medal, is held in higher regard than watching their favourite national player win a Stanley Cup….they same may even be true for some of the players themselves.
“If the NHL does not go to the Olympics, Finland with not participate in the next World Cup”
The Players: What if players say, “Suck Dick, I’m Going”?….What is the NHL going to do? Suspend Ovechkin? Karlsson? Price? Malkin? McDavid? Eichel? Matthews? Laine? YEAH RIGHT! No chance the NHL suspends any of their marquee guys, in the middle of the season, because guess what? Those guys make you money…they are your cash cow. As much as the NHL and owners think they own the players, the players hold the keys to their income. The Players need to organize and get it together and stand up for themselves, their countries and the sport they love. I can see many Russian, Finnish and Swedish players threatening to go, as many already have. Grab the owners by the balls and show them who runs shit. The owners are nothing without those players. The Canadians on the other hand come with a more disappointing tone as Crosby has said he probably wouldn’t consider going…but again, he doesn’t speak for all Canadian players. Seeing him stand up would be a huge boost for the players. And it’s possible for players to pay their own way for insurance and go. Johnny Gaudreau did it for the World Cup and he didn’t even have a contract.
The IOC/IIHF: IOC has to grow some balls here. I know NHL players at the Games is what they want, but they can’t let the NHL call the shots here and pick & choose what games they want to go to. They will obviously go to 2022 in Beijing, as NHL has already invested money in that market. But if I’m the IOC I’m telling the NHL to “go take a hike, you’re not welcome at the 2022 games if we weren’t good enough for you in 2018″. That’ll really fuck with the NHL.
KHL: The winner in all this is the KHL. This was perfect for them. They were smart enough to get into the Asian market, and now guess what, the Olympics is going to feature the best players from their league. I’m sure they will step up their initiatives to make sure Asians, who for most will see hockey in their face for the first time, know who the KHL is while the NHL is concerned about schedules (apparently) on the opposite side of the world. Not to mention Russia will probably have the best team without the NHL being there.
The NHL: They take a huge L for this.
The Players: There is arguable the best talent we’ve seen in this league for years with guys like McDavid, Matthews, Eichel, Laine, Draisaitl and the list goes on. They are young and exciting to watch, especially on a bigger ice surface. They may not get the chance to go until 2022, if that is even an option then. A lot of these kids grew up dreaming off winning Olympic Gold because they saw the best from their countries competing at Olympics! Not only that, but what about the veterans? Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, Sedins, Kane, Toews? Those guys will all be in their mid to late 30s by the time 2022 roles around. Will they be competitive enough to make their teams? Or for some, (especially Sedins) this may be their real last chance at an Olympics where they know they can compete at their peak. What do you think a player values more? A lifetime experience at the Olympics OR your avg two weeks of NHL hockey in the middle of February?
Hockey Fans: At the end of the day the fans lose. This has all come down to money and the people who care for it most always get the short end of the stick. Guess I’ll pay more attention to Speed Skating?