NHL banned from Winter Olympics: Good for competition, bad for viewers

IHOCKEY-OLY-2018-PYEONGCHANG-USA-SLO

By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer

If you are as big a hockey fan as I am, you were probably outraged initially at the discovery that NHL players were restricted from playing in the Winter Olympics, after five consecutive winter olympics featuring NHL players.

Now, why on earth would they do something like this to my good winter games? How will I ever manage watching hockey players that arent the best in the world representing their nations when I could just watch the NHL instead? Without the big names to draw me in, is there really a point?

Well as it turns out there is. Much as I may love to see hockey played as well as it possibly can be, there are more than a few advantages to this plan.

For starters the NHL’s season isn’t interrupted with a 17-day break in the schedule required in February, a time when the National Football League’s season has ended and Major League Baseball’s season has yet to begin. The NHL is in its most popular time frame, and it has to take a break for players to play in the Olympics. Naturally this could make anyone with any amount of money in the NHL a bit unhappy.

Another benefit to this ban could be with the sport as a whole. Roughly 48 percent of players in the NHL are from Canada, meaning the largest benefactor to the NHL playing in the Olympics is, you guessed it, Canada.

Within the past five Olympic games, Canada has won three gold medals in Men’s Ice Hockey, with most, if not all, players being from the NHL. Without this large influx of constantly training players, the window for competition skyrockets. Much as I, a Canadian, love watching my mother country take home the gold in the sport it most certainly deserves it for, I would much rather see a competitive series of games than a boring, expected victory from Canada.

Now, does this mean Canada won’t win the gold in Men’s Ice Hockey? Probably not. Within the past five Winter Olympics, Canada has taken the gold in Women’s Ice Hockey four times, and a silver once.

Ice Hockey is Canada’s best sport, and I look forward to seeing them take home a gold yet again, especially since the crutch of a steady flow of NHL players has been taken away.

Of course I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt to be unable to see Hockey played at its best. It truly is a shame to see every other olympic sport played at peak performance, while hockey as a whole will be handicapped, simply because the NHL restricts their stars. As much as it does help with competition, as well as keeping the NHL full for one of its biggest viewing windows, I can’t help but feel it against the spirit of the Olympics to put anything but your best foot forwards.

As much sense as it makes, The Olympics deserve the best of the best, and those players deserve to represent their blood more than they deserve to represent their buyer.

Photo courtesy: Pyeongchang2018.com

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