The second news broke that Pyeongchang, South Korea had been awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics, hockey fans’ Twitter feeds exploded with a plethora of lousy Jim Paek jokes (what, no respect for Richard Park?). Today’s news means that world hockey power South Korea will automatically qualify for both the men’s and women’s tournaments. Whether or not NHL players will be partaking in the event is a whole other issue, one that’s sure to be a hot topic for the next couple of years.

With Sochi, Russia playing host to the 2014 games and Pyeongchang on deck for the following Winter games, North American television networks and players’ travel schedules will be among the foremost debated topics in hockey circles. Back-to-back Olympics across the pond probably isn’t what Gary Bettman would consider a dream scenario worth interrupting the NHL schedule for. The challenges of the time zone differences means television networks will be left without the prime time drawing power of popular events like hockey.

Since the inclusion of NHL players in the Winter Olympics was introduced in 1998, both Canada and the United States have struggled when the games were held across the pond. Compared to the 19-4-2 combined record of Canada and America in games held on North American soil (Salt Lake City and Vancouver), the two nations’ performance on the other side of the world have been pretty lousy. In the games held in Nagano, Japan and Torino, Italy – Canada and America have combined for a sub-par 9-12-1 record.

Bettman will be sure to dance around questions regarding the NHL’s participation in the next two Olympic Games until it’s time to ultimately make the decision. What do you say, will the NHL be sending its players to the 2018 Games in South Korea?

Comments (3)

  1. Of that 19-4-2 record, it should be noted that 3 of those losses were to the other North American team (Canada holding a 2-1 edge). The only loss by a North American team to a European one, in that time, was Canada losing to Sweden in the Salt Lake opener.

    The NHL really runs the risk of marginalizing itself from the hockey world by not allowing its players to participate. And we would see a drop in the number of Europeans playing in the NHL (although some people might not mind that). The KHL will certainly shut down for any Olympic tournament, and there are attempts to start up a pan-European league, which might be more attractive than the NHL for players who want to play in the Olympics–it even might lure some Canadians and Americans who want to play.

  2. Well, the obvious point to make is that it’s a component of the CBA and we won’t know until that gets ratified. That being said, the league can’t be too happy – the alternative was Munich, which, as we know from the crazy crowds at last year’s Worlds, is a really good hockey market (as is Germany in general).

    Neither situation is idea, but Korea’s about as bad as it gets. Unless they play the games there at 2AM, it’s not going to be great exposure. Frankly, the league should think seriously about skipping it – and it pains me to no end to say that. Not to mention the ongoing issues with goofiness like not being able to show footage of the games in NHL promo spots.

    Korea’s going to be a WEIRD winter olympics host. They could draw 70,000 for short track speed skating, but what else in the winter sports calendar has any pull over there?

    (Figure skating, I guess…)

  3. Also: let’s face it, the big ice / small ice thing was the biggest contributing factor to the disparity in records. If Canada medals in either of these two, I’ll be happy.

    (Looking forward to the inevitable Denver 2022 – and Quebec’s surely-ridiculous attempts to grab that games.)

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