Like the captain of the Titanic, we should have seen this iceberg coming.
The NHL’s decision to opt-out of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea was a story being written before the players even took their skates off in Sochi.
Here’s how it all played out through the media from 2014 to Monday’s fateful announcement.
• Feb. 6, 2014: Our story starts with the late Philadelphia Flyers owner, Ed Snyder, and his disapproval of Claude Giroux being left off the Canadian Olympic team.
A decision which left Snyder apoplectic, “Well it’s a farce. He’s one of the best players in the league. It’s ridiculous. He’s better than half the guys on that team.”
As the Q&A went on, Snyder dug in his heels in on the league’s participation in the Olympic Games.
“If I had my way, we’d never go to the Olympics,” said Snyder. “We’re the only league that breaks up our season. Basketball plays in the winter, but they play Olympics in the summer. It’s ridiculous. The whole thing’s ridiculous … I think it’s ridiculous to take three weeks off or however long it is in the middle of the season. It screws up everything.
“There’s no benefit to us whatsoever. If anything, I can only see negatives. The players want to play. The Players’ Association has a lot to say about it. As an owner, I think it’s ridiculous.”
When asked if he was in favor of a World Cup over the Olympics, Snyder said, “I’d like to see anything other than the Olympics. I mean, I hate‘em.”
Snyder was the most vocal owner in 2014 when it came to the group’s view of the Olympics. He may be gone now but his words still resonate among the ownership.
• Jan. 27, 2014: The games in Sochi had yet to begin, but questions about 2018 started to swirl.
In a story by the Associated Press, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly speaks about the leagues disapproval of pausing a season for an Olympic tournament not in North America.
”The North American experiences have been better than far-away Olympics for a host reasons, including exposure,” Daly said in an interview with the AP. ”When you have a North American-based Olympics, you can have a shorter period without NHL games. We’re going to have the longest break we’ve ever had, and that could interrupt momentum for teams and have an effect on their competitiveness based on how many players they have playing, and how many injuries they have in Sochi.”
Would the NHL let its players compete in the Winter Olympics only when they’re held in North America?
”I don’t think that’s where we would go, but I wouldn’t rule it out,” Daly said.
Players, seemingly universally, want to play in the Winter Olympics for the sixth straight time in 2018 in South Korea – and beyond.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have been in talks about bringing back the World Cup of Hockey that wouldn’t conflict with the league’s regular season. Daly said the NHL and NHLPA are both in favor of creating a uniform international calendar
”A World Cup should clearly play a part in that,” Daly said.
• Feb. 5, 2014: The AP reports on a meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) prior to Sochi that would have lasting consequences in the negotiations for the NHL’s participation in 2018.
Committee members urged each other not to ‘pay’ for the participation of the major North American sports leagues. This is not limited to the NHL. It includes MLB (who doesn’t allow Olympic participation) and the NBA.
This isn’t ‘pay’ inull