Will NHL players compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics scheduled to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea? That topic has been widely discussed and debated ever since the final whistle blew on the 2014 Winter Olympics, which saw Canada take home the gold. The introduction of the World Cup of Hockey, scheduled for 2016 in Toronto, has led many to believe the NHL is trying to move away from sending representatives to the Olympics. However, Donald Fehr, executive officer of the NHLPA, states that the players still want to compete.
Fehr’s comments, as seen on Sportsnet, outline the differences between the World Cup of Hockey and the Olympics and indicate that player revenue and the fact participants could theoretically compete in both events as reasons why the tournament is still attractive to players.
"They’re radically different in two different respects. The first is that the World Cup is an event which is hockey only. You don’t have any competition, you don’t have anything else. And I say that even though men’s ice hockey is basically the centerpiece of the Winter Olympics these days, even outside of Canada. You start with that.
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The second thing is obviously the Olympics are an IOC event and you’re talking about traditionally at least expenses being covered and those kinds of things. You’re not talking about generating revenue. Players like it if we generate more revenue. They have limited careers, obviously they want to try and get it back.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in hockey. I think they can both exist. The players really want to play in both.”
T.J. Oshie may be a perfect example to look at regarding Fehr’s comments. Oshie’s incredible run in the shootout against Russia catapulted him from a name known only in St. Louis and deep hockey circles to one known nationally. Endorsements, such as one with Enterprise, soon followed.
NHL players realize the Olympics are an opportunity for future revenue, and they won’t be too eager to turn their backs on the tournament.