A Solution to the NHL’s Olympic Problem

After the NHL ended nearly 20 years of Olympic participation at the 2018 PyeongChang games, they’re set to return to the 2022 games. At least for the time being.

The first COVID hiccup of the 2021-22 season has caused the Senators to postpone games and immediately set off alarm bells regarding the NHL’s ability to withdraw from the games should additional postponements occur. How this all proceeds depends on a whole lot of factors no one can predict. The current surge in COVID cases certainly doesn’t bode well for avoiding additional outbreaks and postponements. But there’s no way to know if and when exactly another outbreak could come.

This all puts a cloud of uncertainty around if players will ultimately play in Beijing as it sounds like the league is happy to find any excuse to avoid actual participation in the games. That’s disappointing for anyone who relishes the opportunity to watch the best-on-best tournament and savors the quadrennial event. Whether or not NHL players ultimately make the trip to China for the 22 games won’t be officially determined in January, but it seems likely that if another postponement or two occurs in November or December, the league would pull the plug.

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and the league’s stars are able to represent their countries once again. A men’s tournament with NHL talent is the best possible outcome for the event and would ideally shed more light on the women’s tournament which will have Canada and the US on another gold medal collision course.

The issues with the NHL at the Olympics are well documented at this point. The league is not shy about advertising their position on the matter, though I can’t help but think their inability to capitalize on their participation has more to do with how they manage the event and less to do with shutting down for a period each Olympic cycle.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.36 – The NHL is Returning to the Olympics

The NHL will be back at the Olympic games for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. We chat about the return of NHL players after missing the last cycle and what this means for the league. We talk about the pros and cons of the agreement and what long term opportunities are being missed due to the limitations in place between the NHL, IOC and IIHF. We also touch on the new contracts for Casey Mittelstadt and Henri Jokiharju and wrap up the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet saga.

The Instigator Podcast 5.40 – NHL Bails on the Olympics while the Sabres Bail on Giveaways

On this week’s episode Chris and Tyler run down the decision and potential consequences by the NHL to not send players to the 2018 Winter Games. We discuss the potential impact on the growth of the game overseas and the consequences closer to home. Also on the agenda is the poor giveaway offered by the Sabres for this year’s Fan Appreciation Night and the additional opportunities the Sabres miss when it comes to fan engagement, giveaways and promotions.

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The Instigator Podcast 5.38 – Celebrating the Buffalo Beauts NWHL Championship with Jacquie Greco

Buffalo Beauts forward Jacquie Greco joined the show to talk about the Buffalo Beauts’ championship win over the Boston Pride. We touch on additional topics on the future of the women’s game while also discussing Olympic participation from the men’s and women’s perspective. Thanks again to Jacquie for coming to join the show this week (and for bringing the Isobel Cup along with her!).

Decision on 2018 Olympics should be easy for the NHL

It is a 14 hour time difference between the east coast and Pyeongchang, South Korea. That’s five more hours than the nine-hour difference that has fans waking up at all hours of the night to catch Olympic competition at the 2014 Winter Games.

Among other things, the time difference is one reason many think that Pyeongchang will be the first Olympics to not see the NHL send players to participate. However, with the potential for another terrific run by the US driving fans to their television sets, the NHL may need to reconsider their stance on pulling their players from Olympic competition.

The final decision on sending players to the Olympics is complicated. The NHL and NHLPA need to get together with the IOC and IIHF to line up everything from player insurance to the scheduling crunch that comes with a two-week shutdown of the league. But the benefit to the game and the league is massive.

After the US victory over Russia in the prelims, the game led the ABC National News. That’s a non-hockey network leading their national broadcast with NHL stars triumphing for the US. The re-run of overtime and the shootout drew massive numbers and TJ Oshie, Jonathan Quick and others have been all over programs like the Today show as the NHL’s players have taken the forefront for the second-straight Olympics. Continue reading

World Cup to return in 2016, now to ensure it endures

Due in part to this year’s NHL lockout, the decision to send NHL players to the 2014 games has been delayed much longer than some may have expected.

A big part of the issue is the significant time difference between North America and Sochi which will drastically decrease the impact that having the NHL’s best on the Olympic stage will provide. Unlike the 2010 games in which nearly every game was broadcast in primetime and the impressive run by the US turned the eyes of the nation to the sport of hockey, Sochi is eight hours ahead of the East coast and that will cause major issues for televising games in North America.

The eight hour difference isn’t nearly as big of an issue as the potential locations for the next two Winter Olympic sites. Pyeongchang, South Korea will host in 2018 and there are no North American bids for the 2022 games either. That means that another European or Asian country will serve as host thus putting the next two Olympic games on a significant time difference from North America. With that in mind, I wonder if the 2014 games will be the last time the NHL provides the athletes for hockey at the Olympics – that is until another North American city hosts.

With that in mind, I have a strong feeling that the 2016 reiteration of the World Cup of Hockey will be more significant that a one-off of the event that was so well received (in hockey circles)in 1996 and 2004. Continue reading