On Wednesday morning the U.S. men’s hockey team took the ice in PyeongChang in their first game of the 2018 Olympics.
Only the normal household names like Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel for America were not there.
Thanks to the National Hockey League, none of the NHL players from any country are partaking in the 2018 games.
The NHL, unlike past years, is not taking a break in the season to allow players to compete in the Olympics. Instead, the NHL will be playing right through its season, eliminating all the world’s best from the Olympics.
Many other countries will send professional players from their domestic leagues to represent them.
The U.S. will follow suit and send a mix of college athletes, AHL players and other Americans who play overseas.
The NHL’s decision to hold its players out of the Olympics is already having a huge effect on the U.S. team as they lost their opener 3-2 in overtime to Slovenia.
However, aside from significantly weakening the national team, the NHL could be affecting themselves with this decision.
The NHL is already a league that is hurting for ratings. The NHL is by far the least viewed sport on television among the four major sports. On top of that, it also makes the least amount of money of all four major sports.
By not letting its players go to the Olympics, the NHL is giving up a lot of good exposure that the league would otherwise not get.
The NHL made this decision because a majority of the owners were not in favor of the two week break.
On top of that, the IOC, who usually pays for the players’ expenses during the Olympics, announced it would not be covering the costs for the 2018 games.
But still, exposure could have done the NHL a lot of good.
Just ask the MLB how valuable exposure is.
In 2017, the World Baseball Classic took place just before the MLB regular season began.
A significant number of people tuned into the WBC as it had a number of close, good games.
This could have really helped the MLB, as teams like the Yankees, Indians, Brewers and Twins saw huge improvements in ratings from 2016 to 2017.
If the NHL were really serious about changing its culture and bringing in more loyal viewers, the Olympics would have been a perfect stepping stone.
But by pulling their players out of the 2018 games, the NHL sure missed the mark and could regret this move for some time to come.