NHL’s hasty decision to skip the Olympics accelerates the decline of ice hockey | NHL

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Do you believe in miracles?

The NHL and its player unions are clearly not. They decided to take away the opportunity to put their sport on the epic stage. Rash, short-sighted decision This is to keep athletes at home while lower-level journeymen and young people are skating for the Olympic gold medal in Beijing.

Decision, Formalized on WednesdayMade specifically for Covid-19 concerns:

1 The NHL Many games have already been postponed due to the recent surge, and we now consider the two weeks of the Olympic Games as a window to play those games.

2 Beijing’s quarantine rules are stricter than they want and may drive players out of the country and take no more action than necessary.

The latter is a legitimate concern, but it can still be discussed with the IOC and Beijing organizers. The deadline for NHL players to declare whether to go to Beijing is January 10. So why make the decision on December 21st?

The former is a misunderstanding about the position of hockey in the sports world. The NHL miscalculated in 2018 and kept players away from the game – then to the astonishment of the Players Association Pointed reminder League of Opportunities It Missed:

“The 2018 and 2022 Olympics in Asia await unique opportunities. The NHL did not give the owner a meaningful concession to agree to go to Pyeongchang, so the IOC or You might believe that you are penalizing players, or both. Instead, this hinders the growth of our amazing game by moving away from the opportunity to reach sports fans around the world. . “

Some sports are bigger than the Olympics. Tennis and golf have grand slams. Basketball has an NBA. Men’s soccer has the World Cup. (The same is true for women’s soccer, but in that case the World Cup and the Olympics are about the same in the eyes of the general public.)

Hockey is not one of these sports. In North America, it has the Stanley Cup, the coolest trophy in epic tradition and sport. In other parts of the world, it’s much less. The annual World Championships are held during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so it’s hard to attract the best players. The 2016 World Cup was just a pre-season gimmick for the NHL.

The NHL isn’t terrible.The league has expanded to Las Vegas and Seattle and is profitable Long-term transactions With ESPN and Turner Sports.However Low rating of the second half of the game In TNT, a 4-digit number Number of attendees Buffalo and even Attendance in Canada crazy about hockey It clearly reminds us that the location of hockey is far from guaranteed in an increasingly crowded sporting landscape.

The NHL has long been considered one of the “Big Four” American sports leagues. Today, the Premier League and other football broadcasts are competing with the NHL for ratings. The average number of participants in Major League Soccer is high, but the venue is large and weekday games are rare.Women’s basketball When Football It is increasing rapidly. Fracture the viewer, taking into account MMA and all other sports, as well as cornholes. “Big Four” can easily become “Big Three Half” or “Big Three and Everything Els”.

Therefore, the NHL may not be able to afford to waste good intentions. Still doing so.

NHL leaders forget about the rich history of Olympic hockey. The miracle on ice, in which the American amateur rag defeated the mighty Soviet Union team in 1980, attracted the public’s attention and produced a major movie.The stakes are so high that Russian fans Protest in Moscow After a controversial call, the United States defeated Russia in a long penalty shootout. And it was a preliminary round and the medals weren’t in jeopardy.

Team USA celebrates a miracle on ice after defeating the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic semifinals. Photo: Steve Powell / Getty Images

And the player jumps at that opportunity. The Olympic basketball team does not always attract the best NBA players for a variety of reasons, but from 1998 to 2014 Olympic hockey was a glittering showcase for the world’s top players. Do you really want a perennial All-Star like Seth Jones to reach its peak year, even if you don’t have the opportunity to play the game?

It’s also fun for viewers to watch hockey on larger links, giving experienced players more room to operate. The game will be faster and sharper. Viewers do not seem to miss the battle that is part of the NHL game.

Viewers also react to rivals, an aspect of the game that the NHL values. A game featuring either Canada, Russia or the United States is a must-see television. The February match between Arizona Coyote and the Los Angeles Kings is not.

To understand what the NHL is throwing away, consider the 2010 gold medal showdown between the host countries Canada and the United States.Zach Parise Score in 24 seconds I just saw Canada’s favorite son, Sidney Crosby, win overtime to give the United States a tie.

The game drew 27.6 million viewers Only in the United States. In Canada About half of the population saw.

This event was not just a North American phenomenon. Check out this video from around the world that captures the Crosby winner’s drama.

Who wants to deny a player the opportunity to play such a game?

Does anyone want to deny viewers the opportunity to watch such games?

Does anyone want to deny the opportunity to bring their sport to viewers around the world?

Will sports executives move the heavens and the earth to ensure that this opportunity exists?

Given the unpredictable path Covid-19 is taking, windows can eventually close spontaneously. But the wise course of action was clearly to keep the windows open for as long as possible, rather than closing them immediately.

NHL’s hasty decision to skip the Olympics accelerates the decline of ice hockey | NHL

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