Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: NHL Won't Stop Play for Winter Olympics Next Year

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: NHL Won't Stop Play for Winter Olympics Next Year

Article excerpt

NHL won't take a break for 2018 Winter Olympics

The National Hockey League will not halt play next season to accommodate players' participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, citing opposition by club executives to "disrupting" the schedule. The decision, announced Monday, could antagonize the NHL Players' Association, whose members have been vocal in saying they favored playing on the world's biggest stage for the sake of national pride and for opportunities to increase the game's global popularity.

The NHL has allowed players to represent their homelands in the last five Winter Olympics, starting at the 1998 Games in Japan. On those occasions the International Olympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation financed the hefty costs of travel and accommodations for players and their families. However, Thomas Bach, who became president of the IOC in 2013, said his organization would no longer pay those costs, which are believed to exceed $20 million. The IIHF said it would contribute some money, but that apparently wasn't sufficient to sway the NHL.

The Olympics give the NHL world-wide television exposure and draw casual viewers but participation has not produced financial benefits for the league or its teams. In addition, the NHL has long chafed at restrictions on its ability to promote its players' Olympic feats and reap marketing-related income while teams go on hiatus.

Many prominent NHL players have said they want to play in the Olympics, with Washington standout Alexander Ovechkin saying he intends to play even if the league doesn't take a break. The NHL will have to determine how to handle such situations.

With an eye toward international growth, the NHL and NHLPA last September revived the World Cup tournament and staged it in Toronto before the season. The league and the players' association were able to keep the revenues generated by the event, which is not the case at the Olympics. The tournament drew mixed reviews and made for a long season for many standout players. (Los Angeles Times)

U.S. advances in women's world hockey event * Hannah Brandt scored with 7:35 remaining in the third period to help the United States hold off Finland 5-3 to secure the top seed for the knockout round of the women's hockey world championship. …

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