National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, the 31 team owners and National Hockey League Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr may have no interest in shutting down the regular season for two weeks next February so players could compete in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics but that does not mean all concerned parties aren’t interested in making money from non-NHL cities.
On the contrary, the league will be holding two regular season games in Stockholm, Sweden on November 10 and 11 featuring the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. The league more than likely will be sending two teams to China during training camp and play some games in Beijing. It seems the NHL is not all that interested in promoting the league in South Korea.
The NHL probably does not want to miss out on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics even though there is scant interest in the game in China. So, it is conceivable that the NHL will just sit out the 2018 Olympics and be content with staging the World Cup of Hockey every four years. But the World Cup of Hockey is not going to reach the same number of people who watch the Olympics. It is strictly a tournament for hard core hockey fans and needs to be expanded beyond the greater Toronto area and into some American and European cities.
The decision on allowing NHL players to compete in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea needs to be made soon. The 2017-2018 schedule is a consideration as dates have to be locked in at various arenas and there are promotional considerations such as outdoor games that have to be scheduled and promoted.
Meanwhile in South Korea there are all sorts of political problems and the Olympics backers are hoping the Games will restore national pride whether the NHL players are there or not.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.