All due respect to the biathlon, but I think we can all agree that hockey’s the most boring part of any Winter Olympics, right? I mean, honestly, who cares about watching the world’s best players go all out competing for country and glory? It’s not like the epic showcase is routinely, historically the highlight of the winter games or anything. Delivering the kind of goosebump-inducing moments little kids (and, let’s be real, grown-ass adults) will be reliving on backyard rinks for decades to come.
At least, that seems to be the argument coming out of the NHL head office these days, anyway. Because as of late Monday afternoon, the league released a statement saying that for the first time since 1994, it won’t be sending its players to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Or at least, they won’t be including a break in the 2017-2018 regular season to accommodate any owners who do.
(And in case that wasn’t already bad enough for hockey fans, if the IOC goes ahead with its threatened scorched Earth policy in retaliation, no NHLers in 2018 could mean no NHLers at Beijing 2022 either.)
Even though the league was given until the end of the month to make their final decision, according to Sportsnet, they decided to just pull off the band-aid and release the bad news now, so “it doesn’t overshadow the playoffs.” Or, if you feel like being more cynical about it – and yeah, we’re definitely feeling pretty cynical right now – because the news might have a better chance of getting buried on a day when the sports world’s attention was already split between MLB Opening Day and the March Madness championship…
For the owners, though, yesterday’s decision was the culmination of years of frustration about having to shut down the league (and, you know, their license to print money) for three weeks for the Games, the chance for injury to star players, and all that sweet, sweet revenue the IOC wasn’t sharing.
In the end, both the NHL and the Olympic committee waited for the other side to swerve. And when it became clear neither side was budging, they both decided to just keep driving headlong into each other for the hell of it. And once again, the fans and players are the ones getting taken for a ride.