Could Sochi be end of NHL run at Olympics?

Enjoy watching NHL players at the Sochi Olympics because it's likely they won't be at the 2018 Games in South Korea.

The NHL won't make its decision about future Olympic participation until after it assesses what happens in Sochi. But it seems clear league officials aren't enamored with the idea of going to Pyeongchang, where hockey terms are a foreign language.

Players love going to the Olympics, and fans love having them there. But the relationship between the NHL and the Olympics has been troubled for a long time.

As much as NHL officials like the romance of participating in the Games, they have never liked shutting down the league 16 days to make it happen.

Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider said suspending the league schedule to play in the Olympics was "ridiculous." And he's not the only owner who feels this way.

This is the time of year when NHL attendance is strongest, and some markets have had trouble re-acquiring their fan base after the shutdown. Fans find other ways to spend their money. Walk-up sales aren't as strong for some teams after the Olympics.

Owners also worry about injuries affecting their playoff run. A major injury could cost a team millions of dollars in potential playoff revenue.

The NHL and the NHL Players' Association also are planning to resurrect the World Cup of Hockey, which would be scheduled before the NHL season.

Obviously, NHL officials would prefer to have that become a major event on the league calendar because they would be in control of the product and the league and players would reap the financial benefit.

The concept of "control" long has been an issue between the NHL and International Olympic Committee. It bothers the NHL and NHLPA that it doesn't have more say at what happens with the hockey tournament at the Games.

The NHL and NHLPA negotiated a better deal for the 2014 Games, but it is fair to say the NHL believes it deserves a larger voice given the talent it provides.

When you add up all of those issues, then factor in that Asia is not a hockey area, you understand why the NHL might pull the plug on Olympic participation. Hockey games in Pyeongchang will be live in the middle of the night in America.


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