The 2014 Sochi Olympics may be the last time you see the Winter Olympics using NHL players, according to the Associated Press.
With the games being hosted in Russia the NHL is taking their longest recess in the history of using NHL players for the games and when the Olympics aren’t geographically-friendly for the NHL, it may not make good business sense.
“The North American experiences have been better than far-away Olympics for a host reasons, including exposure,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “When you have a North American-based Olympics, you can have a shorter period without NHL games. We’re going to have the longest break we’ve ever had, and that could interrupt momentum for teams and have an affect on their competitiveness based on how many players they have playing, and how many injuries they have in Sochi.”
The 1980 Olympics featured the ‘Miracle on Ice’ with amateur players bringing the United States a gold medal and beating improbably odds, but would the viewing public still view Olympic hockey if there were not recognizable faces like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane?
When Canada beat the U.S. to take the gold medal in the Vancouver games nearly 35 million people watched as Crosby beat Ryan Miller for the game-winning goal.
150 NHL players are playing in the Olympics as the league shuts down from Feb. 9-Feb. 24 when they could be cashing in on the NFL ending and the calm before the storm in college basketball before March Madness.
“It’s pretty obvious to say it’s good for the game,” Chicago Blackhawks and U.S. forward Patrick Kane said.
A World Cup of hockey could be a potential avenue the NHL considers that wouldn’t impact the regular season, but it also wouldn’t compare to the significance and atmosphere that only the Olympics can produce.