SBD/Issue 88/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHL Owners Remain Hesitant About Future Olympics Participation

Some NHL Owners See Players' Participation
In Olympics As High Risk With Little Reward
The three Olympics that have seen NHL players participate -- "particularly the two overseas editions -- have soured some NHL owners, who see their employees' participation as high risk with little reward," according to E.J. Hradek of ESPN THE MAGAZINE. The league in every Olympic year since '98 has "shuttered its regular season for roughly two weeks," and the thought has been that Olympic exposure "would lure a big-bucks national TV deal and help the NHL cut a larger swath through the pro sports landscape." But the league "got virtually no bounce" from the '98 Nagano or '06 Turin Games due to the location of the games and the fact both the U.S. and Canada "failed to medal either time." However, even during the '02 Salt Lake City Olympics, when Canada beat the U.S. in the Gold Medal game, things "didn't work out as planned." The TV rating was a "huge 10.7 in the U.S.," but the NHL "saw no carryover" -- the '02 Red Wings-Hurricanes Stanley Cup Final earned just a 3.6 rating. Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs said of the Olympics, "As owners, we have to decide if it's worth it. When the games are held outside North America, we can't take advantage of it nearly as much as we'd like." Hradek notes some owners "see no value in suspending league play just as the sports calendar clears." Possible injuries also play a factor; the Senators in '06 lost G Dominik Hasek "for the season after he was hurt playing for the Czech Republic." However, NHL players "absolutely want to chase their Olympic dreams." Meanwhile, "lurking in the background are the impending collective bargaining talks in 2011." If playing in the Olympics is "really so important to the players," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "may try to trade the participation for something he and the owners want" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 1/25 issue).

Return to top
Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug