The NHL's Decision Not To Participate In the 2018 Olympics Is Far More Disappointing Than Surprising
And there it is, the inevitable finally comes to fruition. It's a good thing loyal hockey fans have had their sphincters relaxed knowing that it was only a matter of time before they got bent over the barrel and screwed by the league they hold most dear. Unfortunately, it's the casual fans that don't realize that when the NHL pulled out of the Olympics they brought a premature end to the potential conception of any fandom that could be spurned by a T.J. Oshie-esque moment.
Don't get me wrong, I know why this decision was made. I applauded the United States Women's National Team for using timing and leverage to their advantage so it would be disingenuous of me not to acknowledge that the NHL is doing the very same thing. There was never going to be great time to tell proud, patriotic professionals that their employer is no longer complicit in them representing their country on an international stage, but the best time to do so would be when that international stage is only a hop, a skip, and a jump from a 'Kim', a 'Jong', and an 'Un'. I don't like the path the NHL is taking by valuing the $14 million that the IOC is now refusing to pay to send NHL players to the Olympics over the widespread popularity of their sport. However - with said Olympics in South Korea - it's the path of least resistance from anyone not named Alexander Ovechkin.
Why, you ask, would the greatest hockey league in world (speaking very relatively) care more about it's short term bottom line than their long term growth as a business? Well, probably because those that are responsible for operating it are so old and cynical that they'll be dead and buried before that growth could potentially materialize financially.
That doesn't mean I am not just as disappointed as the next guy that the United States now has a reason for icing a sub-par roster, but - after watching the NCAA Championship get decided by bogus whistles - I can at least appreciate the NHL's consistency. They have literally never done right by their fans or players when the opposition was their ownership. It's that completely apathetic view towards their devoted customers and the employees delivering their labor-intensive product that has been the catalyst for multiple unwanted work stoppages. Now it will be the catalyst for eliminating the one work stoppage that NHL fans look forward to because it showcases NHL talent better than the NHL itself ever could (See: packed bars at 6AM versus floundering Stanley Cup Finals ratings). If that doesn't speak to the monetary priorities of the league than I don't know what does. The rich stay richer, and the oft-trivialized make sure it stays that way. When you really think about it, affluent, half-dead white guys looking out for their own best interests shows the truest commitment to the American dream - even if it comes at the expense of another 'Miracle On Ice' (or yet another half-hearted, failed attempt at recreating it).