Will the NHL Participate in the 2014 Olympics

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Will the NHL Participate in the 2014 Olympics

VANCOUVER- Despite recent opposition from NHL star players and Sunday’s men’s Olympic US - Canada hockey gold medal game drawing in the most viewers for a hockey game since the Miracle on Ice game. The NHL may opt to disallow its star players to participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics when the current collective bargaining agreement ends in 2011.

It has been an NHL tradition since 1998. Every four years the NHL stops all regular season games for two weeks so that its players can go play at the Winter Olympics. However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other NHL high office personal believe that the Olympics are hurting the NHL by stopping the momentum of the season, resulting in revenue loss for the league.

The NHL has participated in every winter Olympics since 1998. However the NHL is against participating in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia because Sochi is half way around the world meaning that the Olympic games would come on TV around midnight in the U.S., resulting in low ratings. The NHL is also afraid of losing its star players due to injuries at the games. Bettman told reporters “We don't make any money off of it. We're here because we believe it's good for the game, and nobody should forget it. But I'll give you one statistic --- $2.1 billion. That's the value of the contracts of the NHL players who are participating in this tournament. We have turned over, for two weeks, control of the most important assets in our game, and that is our players. And nobody should underestimate for a second the fact that we do that and the players want us to do that, because we think this is important for the game of hockey.”

Although the NHL has to face many difficult challenges such as low TV ratings, revenue loss, and potential injury to its better players, many fans around the world believe that NHL participation in the Olympics is essential and increases the NHL’s popularity. NHL players as well as coaches are in favor of participation in the Winter Olympics because they believe there is no higher accomplishment than playing for their country for a chance to win gold.

NHL superstars Alexander Ovechkin, Evengy Malkin and Iyla Kovalchuck who are all Russian, have spoken publically about their desires to play in front of their home nation in 2014. Alexander Ovechkin who was last year’s leading NHL goal scorer with 56 goals told reporters "Nobody can say to me, 'You can't play for your country in the Olympic Games”. Ovechkin also went on to say “it’s stupid” in regard to the NHL’s hesitation to participate.


Although the NHL has acknowledged that its fans and players would be extremely disappointed if the NHL didn’t take part in the 2014 Olympics, the NHL has continually said there is still plenty of time to decide whether or not to participate. The NHL has also said that before a decision will be made, they will go over the pros and cons of NHL participation with the NHL players association.





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