We’re less than six years away from the next NHL lockout. When 2022 rolls around the NHL will undoubtedly be put on pause. Of course, that really isn’t beneficial to the NHL nor the players, so the league officials decided to throw out an offer to have the CBA extended for another three years. Basically, they’re saying if the NHLPA agrees to extend the current CBA, which is slanted dramatically towards owners, they will allow the players to participate in the 2018 Olympics. This is ballsy on so many levels.
First, the NHL doesn’t give a shit about these next Olympics because they’re in South Korea. Their eyes are on 2022 in China, a much heavier market for the NHL to sink their teeth into. So even if Bettman follows through on his threats about not letting NHL players skate for their country unless the IOC pays for their insurance, travel, etc., the NHL is losing nothing they care about when it comes to growing their brand. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NHLPA comes back with a counteroffer that includes the 2022 Games in some way.
If they were to keep NHL players back, what the hell are they going to do when Alex Ovechkin goes to play for Putin anyways? I fear a bullet from Putin more than anything Gary Bettman threatens me with, so when Ovi plays and the rest of the league stays, what will the NHL do? Suspend a top five player in a sport that already has trouble marketing its top talent? Doubt it. Which means the average Joe’s of the league wouldn’t fear repercussion either unless Bettman decides to only suspend players who score less than 30 goals.
I understand that the NHL pretty much has hockey players by the nuts. The only place for these guys to make a lot of money is in this league. That being said, I find it hilarious that the NHL’s first offer includes granting the players permission to play in the Olympics. If I’m a player, I’m flipping the bird to this offer because I know they want me in the 2022 Olympics. I’ll go play in 2018 and deal with whatever they hand down.
As a fan, I would actually welcome amateurs in the Olympics. I wasn’t born, but Miracle sure did make it seem like international hockey was way more fun with college kids. If you watch the World Juniors, those kids are psychos on the ice. Skating harder and trying way more things than professional players, who have had conservative play burned into their brain. Bring on the kids.