The NHL has announced that they will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics. They’ve released this statement on the matter:
We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject. A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized. Instead, the IOC has now expressed the position that the NHL’s participation in Beijing in 2022 is conditioned on our participation in South Korea in 2018. And the NHLPA has now publicly confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the clubs. As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.
It’s been met with staunch public outcry, and many players expressed their intention to participate in the games prior to this announcement. Jonathan Toews admitted that not allowing NHL players in the games is “misrepresenting our sport on a pretty huge scale”. So far, Henrik Lundqvist is the most high profile player to release a statement since the announcement:
As previously discussed, the women’s team took a stand against unfair, sexist treatment and announced they would boycott the upcoming World Championship in Michigan if the situation did not change. The ladies received overwhelming support from their male counterparts, other athletes, and sixteen US senators.
On Tuesday (28th March) the team agreed to a four year deal with USA hockey whereby players can earn more than $70,000 in a non-Olympic year and $100,000 in the Olympic year. This is a huge boost as previously the players were earning $6000 in the six months leading up to the Winter Olympics. More focus will also go towards the girl’s programs to increase participation, development, and support. This is also an important step as many senior players have been forced to play in leagues with boys growing up because opportunities for girls were – and still are – scarce.
It took a lot of strength. As USA hockey began to explore their options and tried to call up other players, these women showed solidarity with each other. Imagine being on the B team and the A team says they’re not playing then the coach calls and offers you the opportunity to play – although it may be the only chance you have, you refuse because taking a stand for the majority is more important. Powerful.
What’s greater than representing your country in the Olympics? Skipping it and competing in the same league as per usual, according to NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman. Negotiations between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) are fraught with tension. On the 21st March, the commissioner had this to say, in regards to the 2018 Winter Olympics:
Assume we are not going
We, being the NHL players who would be representing their countries in PyeongChang. The main issue is that because it falls in January/February, the NHL season must shut down for almost three weeks in the final push for the playoffs. The added weeks cause the season to lengthen… the final game of the Stanley Cup in 2014 was played on June 13th and the pre-season then began three months later on the 21st September. But it’s less than three weeks, once every four years… IT’S THE OLYMPICS. If they want to shorten the season then cut down on the number of games, collapse teams, remove the all-star game or the recently introduced bye week.
There is also a thinly veiled concern for “player injuries” – this is coming from a league that sparsely enforces its player safety, shows little consistency, displays favouritism, and has lawsuits against it from former players due to the effects of repeated concussions. I say their concern is not genuine because they do not show much concern for fourth liners, but because their star players are at the Olympics – the ones who draw in viewers and the cash – they worry about the size of their wallet.
This is terribly disruptive to our business
For big bosses like Bettman, hockey is just that, a business.
However, to players who have given their entire lives to this sport, the opportunity to represent their country on the biggest stage and win a gold medal means everything. IT IS THE DAMN OLYMPICS. Bettman is complaining about the costs involved in sending the players (around $15-20 million due to accommodation, charter costs, and insurance),but as the majority of these players are on contracts worth millions of dollars per year, I’m sure they’re capable of producing the money as individuals to have the chance to play for their country.
Take the Russian Machine, Alexander Ovechkin, for an example. He’s said that if the NHL refuses to send players then he doesn’t care and is going anyway. Ovi is the face of the Washington Capitals franchise and if he says “nope, I’m out” then others might follow suit. Caps owner, Ted Leonsis, has even given Ovi his blessing to go to the Olympics.
He knows I have his back on this one. If this is what’s so important to him and he wants to go to the Olympics, he should be able to do that. Alex has meant so much to us. He doesn’t ask for much back. I’m not shy about saying it, I would support the player in this instance.
And if Ovi goes, what if his team mate Backström decides he wants to play for Sweden? And if Crosby says he wants to win his third gold and leave the Penguins for three weeks? And if McDavid and Matthews want the opportunity to represent their country for the first time? Who will stand in their way?
Another of Bettman’s issues is that participating in the previous Olympics has had no benefits to the NHL. Olympic games would be broadcast in the morning in North America due to the time difference and in February, only hockey and basketball are the major sports on. It’s absolutely ridiculous. People will still tune into the Olympics no matter what time of day it is hosted.
We don’t get content for the NHL Network, we don’t get content for our social media platforms and NHL.com
GET OVER IT
Bettman pushed the World Cup of Hockey enough – a poor man’s replica of the Olympics – but hockey exists outside the NHL of course. Canada and the USA would most likely send teams made of AHLers, college athletes, or ex-NHLers. Russia could come with a very strong KHL team (and Ovi leading the way as an abdicator). But here is the real kicker… Bettman is keen to line his pockets with as much money as possible, or so it seems: With the arrival of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL has ANOTHER team in the desert. He also would like to penetrate the Chinese sports market because there is lots of cash to be had there. Guess who is hosting the Olympics in 2022… Cha-ching, China! The NHL planned to hold games every year there in the lead up to generate interest* in ice hockey, but Rene Fasel, head of the IIHF has declared:
If the NHL doesn’t come to Korea, they can’t just go to China.
Yikes! The greedy heads of the NHL could potentially shoot themselves in the foot and lose this lucrative Chinese market if they do not participate in the Korean Olympics.
That being said, the NHL didn’t agree to the Sochi Olympics until June 2013, so it is still up in the air… at least until Bettman stops throwing his dummy out of the pram.
*cash, you know it’s for cash. These new “fans” would have to watch games first thing in the morning… oh wait wasn’t that an argument against going to Korea?
With the Olympics coming to a close, I thought I’d countdown my top 5 moments from the games. It’s been a truly great (and at times weird) event and one filled with many amazing times so narrowing it down has been tough… but here we go!
David Katoatau, a weightlifter from the small country of Kiribati, did a funky dance as he competed.
But there was more to the dance. It raised his profile and hit the news.David has used this attention for more important matters,”Most people don’t know where Kiribati is. I want people to know more about us so I use weightlifting, and my dancing, to show the world. I wrote an open letter to the world last year to tell people about all the homes lost to rising sea levels. I don’t know how many years it will be before it sinks.” Kiribati lies only 6ft above sea level – by the 2048 its citizens may need to evacuate due to climate change and rising sea levels.
Simone Manuel. She became the first black woman to win an individual swimming medal when she tied with Penny Oleksiak in the 100m freestyle. This was huge! Two young women winning the gold was great enough, but for Simone it holds even more significance.
During the 5000m race, Abbey D’Agostino fell in agony and fellow runner/competitor Nikki Hamblin stopped to assist her – sacrificing her chances of a medal in favor of helping a competitor. D’Agostino encouraged Hamblin to continue running, but until a wheelchair could take her away, Hamblin refused to leave.
Their sportsmanship received international attention and both women were awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal which has only been awarded 17 times in Olympic history. Sportsmanship > success.
Usain Bolt and Andre De Grasse. Just two bros tearing up the track. Get you a man who looks at you like Usain looks at Andre.
Ashton Eaton, two time Olympic decathlon CHAMPION. Truly incredible. He is also American. He is also married to Brianne Theisen-Eaton, bronze medal winner in this summer’s heptathlon, and a proud Canadian. However, when Ashton was spotted in a Canada hat, people complained…
The married pair shut down the haters and rightly so. They give their all for their respective countries whilst loving and supporting the other.
Now that’s love!
Okay… I lied. The greatest moment of all, was all the times team GB smashed it! I’m so proud of my country and the athletes that have represented our nation. Finishing 2nd in the medal table and improving on London 2012 is such a fantastic achievement! I’m a proud mama!
With a gold medal for the women’s hockey, team GB won gold in 14 different sports… no other country managed 10!
The Rio 2016 Olympics are in full swing and we have some ladies who are completely tearing up the game. But why, when a man is an incredible athlete is his success attributed to himself, whereas a woman’s accomplishments are as a result of the men in her life? A woman cannot only be an athlete, it must also be mentioned that she is a wife or a mother.
Corey Cogdell-Unrien, a three time Olympian, recently won bronze in the women’s trap. It made the headlines because she is the wife of an NFL player. “Wife of a Bear’s linesman wins a bronze medal” – She has a name!
I definitely understand that people want equality for women and that we should be recognized for our own accomplishments and attributes outside of who we’re married to or what our husband’s or significant others have accomplished.
Katie Ledecky is destroying swimming records and her competitors. According to NBC commentator, Rowdy Gaines (what a name btw), she swims like a man. Why is it so difficult to acknowledge her ability without comparing it to a man.
Also in the swimming, Katinka Hosszu achieved gold in the 400m individual medley (and broke a world record) and Dan Hicks from NBC turned his attention to Hosszu’s coach/husband, reporting that he was the man responsible for her success. Yeah okay, a coach does play an important role, and as her husband he also provides her with emotional support, but she’s the one swimming!
The list goes on. As team USA’s gymnastics team chatted on the side, one commentator noted they ‘may as well be standing around at the mall’. Yeah, you know, Olympic standard gymnasts have soooo much free time to spend at the mall. Not like these young women are spending 30 hours a week training and trying to maintain their education. Oh yeah, the team lead the competition by 10 points, pretty much a landslide win.
They are women. Some are mothers, some are young, some are married, some are gay. THEY ARE ATHLETES.