In late March of 2017, the NHL (National Hockey League) announced that there will be no break in the 2017-2018 NHL season for 2018’s Winter Olympics, which will take place in PyeongChang, South Korea. This decision from the NHL to not include a break for the Olympics ends a streak of five consecutive Winter Olympics with NHL players.
The NHL conducted polls in both Canada and the United States to determine if fans were in favor of the League taking a break in February to allow players to compete in the Olympics. In the United States, 73 percent said they were not in favor. In Canada, it was 53 percent against the break. This poll was clearly enough for the NHL to decide against taking a break in their schedule. Another contributing factor to the NHL’s decision is the fact that this 17 day break would include a time where the NFL’s season is over, and the MLB’s season is yet to begin, making the NBA the only major professional sport for viewers in America to watch.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was the organization that was paying for NHL players’ travel costs, accommodations, and insurance. A big factor in the NHL’s decision to not allow a break for their players to participate in the Olympics was the fact that the IOC informed the NHL that they would not continue to finance NHL players participating in the Olympics.
Another reason that the NHL chose to not allow a break in their schedule for players to compete in the Olympics is the fact that the NHL’s schedule is more compressed, which can lead to less rest for players and therefore more injuries. The Olympics are very competitive and physical, which leads to key players becoming injured and teams suffering in their regular NHL season.
Many NHL players want to compete in the Olympics though. Players such as Ben Bishop, (LA Kings) Jimmy Howard, (Detroit Red Wings) and Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks) are all in favor of playing in the Olympics. They all say that they want to feel the competitiveness of Olympic Hockey, and think that fans want to see them play. Most players that want to compete are saying that they want to go up against the best, and they want the fans to see the best competition. As Jimmy Howard said, “The Olympics are supposed to symbolize the best in the world. That’s in the NHL: Most of the best players in the world play in the NHL.”
Overall, the NHL’s decision to not allow a break in their schedule to let players compete in the Olympics was a well-informed decision. Their decision could have upset many spectators of the sport, but they made the decision that they thought was best.